Dallas Keuchel and his representatives have told the Houston Astros they will not engage in contract discussions this offseason reports Reid Laymance of the Houston Chronicle.
“At this point, we have not engaged the club in any sort of long-term discussions,” Braunecker said on the show. “It’s common knowledge that we had some discussion during the season last year and it was just preliminary seeing where one another stood. They approached us, just kicked the tires, and get a sense where both parties were at that time.”
The previous discussions are due diligence on Keuchel and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow’s part. Luhnow talked a Keuchel extension with the Chronicle’s Evan Drellich back in November and said signing the reigning Cy Young winner to an extension is something he wants to do, but is difficult.
“When we’re talking about players entering arbitration, it’s natural that process will lead to some discussion of either doing a multiyear (deal) to buy out the arbitration or years or potential free agent years,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “It becomes more challenging with a high profile Cy Young Award winning type of player. But doesn’t mean there won’t be discussions, but there may not be a deal. But certainly from our standpoint, we believe it’s worth having a discussion about it.”
Those discussions will be halted for the time being, but that’s not to say neither party wants to get a deal done.
The Astros would assumably love to lock up Keuchel to a long-term contract, as he was among the best pitchers in the game in 2015. The lefty had a breakout 2014 after going 12-9 with a 2.93 ERA, but he was a revelation last year. He won his first career Cy Young after leading the American League with 20 wins, going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA, logging 232.0 innings, recording 216 strikeouts, and notching a 1.01 WHIP. Armed with pinpoint control and a fastball that doesn’t even average 90 MPH, Keuchel can paint corners with the best of them, and limits damage when on the mound.
There shouldn’t be any doubt in the mind of Houston management’s that Keuchel can sustain success next year, but they can take a wait-and-see approach as the 28-year-old isn’t due to hit free agency until 2019 and is due roughly $6 million in arbitration next season.
Keuchel also benefits from the wait-and-see approach. He could earn a boatload of money now, but he could earn even more with another good season, and when you factor in the rising amount of money given in long term contracts each offseason, his future contract could in the neighbourhood of $150-200 million. Could his patience backfire? Sure, but unless a major injury takes place or Keuchel regresses severely, I’d be surprised he took a major step back.
Houston is finally in win-now mode, so the prospect of trading Keuchel for young players is extremely unlikely. He’s cheap and hasn’t expressed a desire that he’s unhappy. He would fetch a huge load of prospects on the open market, but the Astros don’t need them. It would be bonkers if they dealt him.
Keuchel is undoubtedly the most important part of the Astros rotation, and the organization will surely give him a fair long-term contract when he’s up to it.