Dallas Keuchel is officially a free agent and while the team has not been directly mentioned, the Los Angeles Angels should pursue the former Cy Young winner.
Dallas Keuchel rejected the Houston Astros’ $17.9 million qualifying offer and is now one of the best starting pitching options available on the market. Right now, the New York Yankees seem to be the front-runners for Keuchel, however, the Los Angeles Angels could be a dark horse as well.
Keuchel enters a relatively thin starting pitching market this winter in which the next best arm available is Patrick Corbin. Corbin is definitely a solid arm but this is nothing like last winter, which included Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.
Keuchel or Corbin are going to get the biggest contract this offseason with both guys making a case as a legitimate ace. With Garrett Richards becoming a free agent after injury woes and Shohei Ohtani not pitching until 2020, the Angels need an ace.
Of the two, Keuchel seems to be the better all-around option as he has displayed multiple years of elite pitching. He did take a step back last season with a 3.74 ERA but still led all starting pitchers in groundball rate last season.
This is the 2015 Cy Young we are talking about after all that had two mediocre years in 2016 and 2018. Aside from that, Keuchel has been dominant. He has a 3.28 ERA since 2014, has won four gold gloves and is a two-time all-star.
Over that same time frame, Keuchel has the 16th-best FanGraphs WAR among starting pitchers and by far the best groundball rate (among pitchers with 700 innings pitched), inducing a whopping 60 percent of batter he has faced to hit a ground ball.
Most importantly, he has been consistent, something the Los Angeles Angels desperately need out of the starting rotation. While he did miss some time in both 2017 and 2016 due to injuries, he still only has one full professional season with fewer than 150 innings pitched. Since 2014, he is one of 13 pitchers with 900 innings pitched.
The Los Angeles Angels do not even need Cy Young Award-winning Keuchel. All the team needs is a consistent frontline starter that can go out and start 30 games in a season and be the true leader of the pitching staff.
Even an ERA in the 2.90-3.20 range should be more than enough for Keuchel to be massively successful in LA. A healthy Zack Cozart and a few minor pieces can give the Angels one of the best offenses in baseball.
And most importantly, Keuchel just pitches great at Angel Stadium. In 80 career innings (third most behind Minute Maid Park and Globe Life Field in Arlington), Keuchel has a 3.26 ERA and 1.113 WHIP. The only ballparks he has better numbers in with at least five starts are Minute Maid, Safeco Field and Yankee Stadium.