Posted on December 22, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
In case there was any confusion from the teams in the rest of the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox aren’t messing around this offseason. The White Sox have already been one of the busiest teams on the MLB hot stove, making some major moves. That continued Saturday night when the club agreed to terms with free-agent starter Dallas Keuchel. The two sides have agreed to a three-year deal worth $55.5 million with a club option for the 2023 season.
Keuchel signing before the new year is a far cry from what happened to him last season. Despite being one of the top starting pitchers on the open market, Keuchel didn’t receive the kind of offers he wanted. He ended up waiting until June and received a pro-rated contract from the Braves for the rest of the season, hoping to give the free-agent market another try. It’s safe to say Keuchel made the right decision after the deal he’s getting from the White Sox. If the White Sox pick up the fourth-year option on Keuchel’s deal, he’ll make $74 million over four seasons, an average of $18.5 million per season.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old lefty has long been one of the most consistent frontline starters in baseball. He’s posted an ERA under 4.00 in five of the last six seasons. His performance the past couple of seasons with the Astros and Braves has dropped below the level Keuchel was at when he won the Cy Young in 2015 and was an all-star in 2017. However, he’s at least a quality mid-rotation starter, going 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA over 19 starts with the Braves in 2019.
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Chicago has been connected to many of the top starters on the market this winter in hopes of finding a veteran who can lead an otherwise young rotation. Keuchel should fit that role perfectly. The White Sox also signed veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez earlier this week, giving them two established starters to help anchor their rotation.
The two new lefties in Chicago’s rotation should be a great complement to a slew of young, hard-throwing righties. The likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, and Dylan Covey will help fill out the remaining spots in the White Sox rotation. Giolito blossomed into an ace in 2019 and should be ready to lead the Chicago rotation alongside Keuchel in 2020. Meanwhile, Gonzalez will provide depth and protection in case some of the other young starters aren’t ready to take another step forward in 2020.
Of course, signing Keuchel to a lucrative deal continues Chicago’s spending spree this winter. The White Sox started the offseason by signing catcher Yasmani Grandal and giving Jose Abreu an extension. They also worked out a trade for outfielder Nomar Mazara, adding another young, promising hitter to their lineup alongside Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Eloy Jimenez. Signing Keuchel and Gonzalez in quick succession is a sign that the White Sox haven’t forgotten to address their pitching staff this winter.
Obviously, signing Keuchel doesn’t make the splash that landing Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg would have. But for a rebuilding team that’s already spent a considerable amount of money this offseason, he’s a significant addition. In many ways, Chicago’s young pitchers and position players will determine how good they are in 2020 and whether or not the White Sox can develop into a championship contender in the years to come. However, adding Keuchel will help the White Sox take a step forward next season, giving them an established and trustworthy starter who can help lead a young team.