When you think of all the young arms the Astros have, you may be surprised to hear who has the upper hand for the rotation. Wade Miley was added on a one-year deal to fill a hole in the rotation and give Forrest Whitley more time to develop. Collin McHugh is set to rejoin the rotation after spending the 2018 season in the bullpen. While he had a start skipped with back issues, they are not worried about his status. The big story this spring has been who the fifth starter is.
The answer to that question may be getting clearer as opening day nears. While Dallas Keuchel may still be a free agent, the Astros could not offer him much in 2019. According to Roster Resources, the Astros only have about $21 million available before surpassing the luxury tax threshold. Keuchel rejected the qualifying offer earlier this offseason. Keuchel’s looking for more.
There was much chatter yesterday about the Astros staying in contact with Keuchel’s people. Buster Olney tweeted that the “Astros have had
Could a return be in the works?
After all, during an interview with Mark Berman two weeks ago, Keuchel hinted that he is ready to meet new teammates and old ones. He did express that he was going to stay patient and wait for the right deal. However, as the opening day nears, he may be aching to get back on the field. Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal got Astros fans excited with one Tweet.
“Astros have made both one- and two-year offers to free-agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel.” While Rosenthal didn’t know the financial aspect of the offers, it’s not what Keuchel is currently seeking. With the red flags circling the former Cy Young, he is not getting the long-term offers he thought he would. Would he settle for less to return home with the Astros for another run for the World Series?
He rejected a $17.9 million qualifying offer early in the offseason, so it would need to be more than that. There is not much flexibility here with the salary at $186 million. The one-year deal would probably be around $21 million. If Keuchel signs the two-year deal, then maybe that deal would be back-loaded with $19 million in 2019 and $24 million in 2020. That would be my guess.
Either way, the Astros will have to get creative to bring the lefty back. It will have to be a short term deal to not interfere with re-signing some of their core players down the road. They would also like to extend Justin Verlander and/or Gerrit Cole. With an improved offense, bring Keuchel back will assist in returning to the World Series in 2019.
Unless things change, they will use someone from within.
Before spring training starter, many felt like the safe pick was Josh James. After his success in 2018, people were ready to see him take the next step. Framber Valdez was the next favorite, but he had a rough start last time around. Yesterday, he pitched in relief and threw three innings, allowing one run on three hits. While it was good to see Valdez’s control improve, he may not be the favorite anymore.
We all remember Brad Peacock getting a chance to start the 2017 season due to McHugh’s dead arm. He was on the bubble that spring, but was able to force his way onto the Astros roster and went 13-2 with a 3.00 ERA. Peacock had finally lived up to expectations, and so did the Astros, who won their first World Series.
Until Keuchel signs with the Astros or someone else, all eyes will be on Peacock’s scoreless spring training. March 28 is approaching; will we see the bearded one return to Minute Maid Park? He may not be the same pitcher he was, but he is a proven workhorse in the rotation. He would not be ready at the start of the season if he signed tomorrow, but he could be ready mid-April.
All stats from Baseball Reference