NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Did Dallas Keuchel send a signal to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman a few weeks ago? Now would be a good time to investigate.
The veteran left-hander remains a hot commodity in free agency, as several teams are reportedly looking to sign him. However, while speaking with a reporter from Fox Business recently, the 30-year-old dropped a hint about the team he may want to join.
“For the right opportunity, I would happily shave this beard off,” Keuchel said.
The Yankees, as everyone knows, have a strict policy about facial hair. They also have a serious need for another starting pitcher.
Since trading for left-hander James Paxton back on Nov. 19, Cashman has been looking for at least one more big arm. Initially, the plan was to sign free agent Patrick Corbin, but on Tuesday the 29-year-old southpaw spurned the Bombers’ reported five-year, $100 million offer for an additional year and $40 million more from the Washington Nationals.
Speculation immediately started that the Yankees would turn their attention to free agent left-hander J.A. Happ, who was excellent for New York after coming over in a late-July trade with Toronto, or ex-Bomber Nathan Eovaldi, who played a big role in Boston’s run to the World Series title. However, Eovaldi appeared to come off the board Thursday morning after reportedly agreeing to a four-year, $67 million contract with the Red Sox.
So, it appears the Yankees’ radar is currently occupied by free agents Happ, Keuchel and possibly Charlie Morton, who teamed with Keuchel to win the 2017 World Series with the Houston Astros. Cashman could also look to make another trade, as several big names, including Corey Kluber and Madison Bumgarner, are reportedly available.
But for now, let’s just assume Cashman is thinking with his wallet.
Keuchel, who likely will get at minimum a three-year deal on the open market, doesn’t exactly fit in with the Yankees’ fascination with power pitchers, but make no mistake, he’s a craftsman. He has parlayed his low-90s fastball and sinker with a slider, cutter and change that have turned him into one of the premiere groundball pitchers in the game, just the type of approach one needs to excel in a homer-happy stadium, like the one in the Bronx.
The question is whether he still has the same type of freakish command he displayed earlier in his career.
The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner is coming off a bit of a down year, going just 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA this past season, but has said he enjoys pitching in New York, and has a career 2.45 ERA at Yankee Stadium to prove it.
If the Yankees do intensify their pursuit of Keuchel, they’ll have some competition. The Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies are among the teams that have expressed significant interest, MLB.com reported.