Prior to his move to the Atlanta Braves, left-hand pitcher Dallas Keuchel was seen as a big upgrade for most teams. One of those teams was, arguably, the injury-hit Cleveland Indians.
The loss of Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger to injury had undoubtedly been a blow to the Indians, who had to deal with attendance problems not long ago. It’s the type of injury news that can often make a team panic and potentially force them into rash decisions, as their MLB futures odds start to lengthen. It was a panic in which the team chose not to indulge, but the Keuchel temptation was ever-present.
The “fair market value” that he was looking for was a contentious issue, that was widely deemed excessive. Yet, with even one defeat causing both futures and moneyline odds to drift in a reactionary world, a gamble is sometimes necessary.
2017: Keuchel’s postseason highlights
Would Keuchel addition have been a “necessary” evil?
At the time of his “free agent” status, Keuchel was reportedly holding out for a nearly five-year contract with the highest bidder, which would have been well over $100m in total value.
Even if the Indians could have paid that amount, they were undoubtedly wise to walk away from any temptation. The intolerable alternative was the potential sight of them losing their status as second favorites to win the AFL Central League.
In addition, the presence of Kluber and Clevinger (whether fit or not) could only reduce Keuchel’s overall value to the team. As underlined by this in-depth guide to betting on baseball, the season is 162 games long, enabling the rotation to reach full strength in plenty of time. In turn, Keuchel would likely have been competing for the fourth, or even fifth, rotation spot, eventually rendering him surplus to requirements.
With that in mind, the type of contract he’d have required would never have been worth it. This was especially the case with the dispatch of a compensatory pick to current American League favorites Houston Astros being a part of any deal.
“If it ain’t broke”… The Indians beat the White Sox 9-0 back on May 14.
Verdict: Keuchel is a bullet dodged
The Indians are very much at a crossroads at the moment, but it doesn’t appear as though anyone else in the division other than the Minnesota Twins is going to be able to pose a real threat. In knowing this, the Indians can think ahead in the long-term, rather than allow knee-jerk reactions, which may see their odds lengthen greatly.
A short-term deal to get Keuchel back to playing baseball might have been a good alternative. However, this was only ever a fantasy scenario, with the pitcher long since making his desires clear while a free agent.
Ultimately, any contract paid for by the Indians would likely have caused long-term damage. The Indians were always better off keeping away from the lefty, and exercising patience until the rotation returned.