After a seven-season tenure with the Astros that included a trio of 200-inning seasons, an American League Cy Young Award in 2015 and an overall 3.66 ERA, Dallas Keuchel is now a free agent.
Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the left-hander.
Amid active day, the top name among free-agent starting pitchers is ...
Dec. 12: The market for starting pitchers took off on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings.
First came reports that lefty J.A. Happ was close to a three-year deal to return to the Yankees. Then there was news of Charlie Morton agreeing to a two-year pact with the Rays. Next? Fellow righty Lance Lynn landed a reported three-year contract from the Rangers. And soon thereafter, the Reds acquired right-hander Tanner Roark in a trade with the Nationals. Got all that?
That's a lot of action -- and a lot of pretty big starting pitcher names more or less off the board -- in a very short amount of time. On the heels of Patrick Corbin signing for $140 million with the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi getting $68 million to stay with the Red Sox, it's time to recalibrate and reevaluate what's left.
For starters, one name now sticks out as the top pitcher available in free agency: Dallas Keuchel.
Gio Gonzalez, Matt Harvey, Anibal Sanchez, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley now represent some of the better options among starters in free agency. Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi -- who has until Jan. 2 to sign a deal with a Major League team after being posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this month -- is the other intriguing option in play, as the 27-year-old might possess the most upside (and also the most uncertainty) of the bunch.
While all of the above can be capable rotation options, none has the same combination of age, durability and proven performance that the soon-to-be 31-year-old Keuchel offers. That should be a very good thing for the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, who owns a 3.28 ERA while pitching 950 1/3 innings over his past five seasons.
Put simply: While there's no shortage of trade candidates, including Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Madison Bumgarner and others, if a team wants to land a free-agent starter who can pitch at or near the top of a rotation, that list pretty much boils down to Keuchel.
"Now, I think you get into some of the guys like Keuchel, like Kikuchi -- they're the guys who we're going to see [get] longer-term [deals]," MLB Network analyst Jim Duquette said Wednesday evening at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. "Talking to Scott Boras, who represents both of them, he seemed to indicate there were several teams willing to give them four or five years."
The Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds and Angels are among the teams that have been linked to and/or could be fits for the left-hander, who appears to be in a strong position to command a big-money, multi-year deal from clubs that have missed out on other starters on the open market so far.
Phillies eyeing Keuchel, Happ
Dec. 11: The Phillies reportedly turned their attention, in part, to Dallas Keuchel after losing Patrick Corbin to the division-rival Nationals earlier this month, and they still appear to be considering the 30-year-old free agent.
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Philadelphia remains in on Keuchel and reliever Zach Britton, and the club continues to eye a "mega free agent" (presumably Bryce Harper or Manny Machado) as well.
Beyond the Phillies, the market for Keuchel is still a bit hazy on the second full day of the Winter Meetings.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Braves, Phillies and Reds are the top three teams in on the left-hander, but MLB.com's Mark Bowman has heard something different. Per Bowman, the Braves have not had discussions regarding Keuchel. And MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has previously reported that the Reds' interest in Keuchel was being overblown.
It's possible the connection between Keuchel and the Braves was floated by Keuchel's representatives to get the Phillies to up their offer.
Meanwhile, the Phillies are also eyeing J.A. Happ and have had "ongoing dialogue" with the left-hander in recent days, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic.
Happ has a number of two-year offers in hand, but he is reportedly seeking three years, and no team has been willing to go there yet. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the left-hander has indicated he'll sign with the first club that does.
The Phillies have a long shopping list, as Stark notes, but a left-handed starter is believed to be high on that list. Philadelphia's rotation skews right-handed, and only two southpaws -- Adam Morgan and Ranger Suarez -- have started a game for the club since Cole Hamels was traded to the Rangers in 2015.
Angels could pursue Keuchel
Dec. 10: The Angels are seeking rotation upgrades and have been more engaged than anticipated on the top free agents, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required).
Major League sources told Rosenthal that the club made "quiet runs" at Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi before they signed with the Nationals and Red Sox, respectively.
The Angels could now turn their attention to Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, J.A. Happ and Yusei Kikuchi, among others, according to Rosenthal.
Keuchel's reliability could be especially enticing for the team, given the injury histories of its current rotation options, which include Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano and JC Ramirez, but not Shohei Ohtani, who won't pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October.
Is Keuchel now the top free-agent starter?
Dec. 6: The Red Sox worked fast to reunite with Nathan Eovaldi, landing the righty with a four-year deal only two days after the Nationals gave a reported $140 million over six years to lefty Patrick Corbin. Those two represented arguably the top free-agent starting pitchers this offseason.
Does that make Dallas Keuchel -- a reliable, durable, in-his prime southpaw -- the clear No. 1 name among starters on the open market?
The 30-year-old does have an impressive resume, starting with his 2015 AL Cy Young Award. Keuchel also sports a 3.28 ERA over his past five seasons, which is 16th best in baseball over that span (minimum 500 innings pitched). His 950 1/3 frames since '14 also represent the 13th most in MLB.
While Keuchel's repertoire isn't overwhelming -- he's more of a command pitcher who relies on his sinker to get grounders and keep the ball in the park -- his age, performance and experience, including a 3.31 ERA over 51 2/3 postseason innings in his career, suggest he's now ranked No. 1 in the free-agent market for starters.
There's a difference, however, between being considered the top name and being the top target. Other intriguing names in the mix include fellow vets J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton, who have pitched extremely well the past couple of seasons and -- here's the key factor -- should cost less in terms of dollars and years than Keuchel. Same goes for Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi, who was posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this week and is considered an intriguing arm with mid-rotation potential.