Keuchel, along with fellow pitcher Craig Kimbrel, was unsigned long into the 2019 season. The Atlanta Braves snapped up Keuchel to bolster their rotation, but the Mets were frequently linked with the former Cy Young winner.
The lefty was solid in 2019, owning a 3.75 ERA across 112 innings in the regular season. He’s far from elite at this stage of his career, but there’s still potentially value in him as a free agent signing. With the Mets likely to see Wheeler walk, they are in need of another veteran arm to join Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman in the rotation.
Keuchel was paid $13 million by the Braves last season. It’s not unreasonable to imagine a lower number for 2020, particularly with the depth of the starting pitching market. A couple of starter-needy teams – the Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins – have already landed arms in the form of Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi (who accepted a qualifying offer from the Twins).
New York – oft criticised for underspending – have a substantial amount of money committed for next season and, per Spotrac, are just $11 million below the luxury tax threshold. Fitting Keuchel below the tax line may well be possible, and he’s one of the best value starting pitcher options. His lack of velocity and decline over the past couple of years makes it unlikely any team will go for a multi-year deal.
Having traded away Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay in the trade to acquire Stroman, the Mets are short on pitching depth in the farm. They only have two pitching prospects in their top eight per MLB Pipeline with David Peterson and Kevin Smith the best options to contribute in 2020. This is the main thing that could put them off Keuchel.
Brodie van Wagenen may prioritise quantity over quality and look to pick up a couple of cheap arms rather than committing a big pot of money to Keuchel. Trevor Cahill, Tyson Ross and Michael Wacha could be of interest.