Dallas Keuchel will play for the Atlanta Braves in 2019. However, he may be a better match for the New York Mets beginning next year.
According to every rumor, whisper, or speculative note out there, the Mets were never a true player in the Keuchel sweepstakes. Unless they were interested in demoting Jason Vargas to a bullpen role, it was never an easy match.
Things may change this winter as the organization as a pair of soon-to-be free agents. Along with Vargas, Zack Wheeler is also pitching in the final year of his deal with the Mets. Vargas does have an option, but even with a productive finish to 2019, I imagine the Mets decline.
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This leaves the Mets with a rotation featuring Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz—unless of course, they trade one of the latter two. I don’t believe there’s any chance deGrom is dealt considering his extension hasn’t even been put to action yet. As for the other two, I’m doubtful but not writing it off completely.
The Mets are going to need to make changes to the rotation. In their search for an arm or two, free agency seems like the likeliest option. They don’t have the spare parts in the farm system to bring in anyone of significance. After his shortened season with the Braves, Keuchel’s name could come calling.
Next year’s list of free agent pitchers include some notable names. Madison Bumgarner and Gerrit Cole lead the way. At the moment, several second-tier starters are also pending free agents. Keuchel and Wheeler fit better in that ilk.
As a groundball pitcher, Keuchel would need good defense on the infield in order to succeed in Queens. We know about Amed Rosario’s defensive struggles. At third base, we can assume Jed Lowrie is lined up as the first option in 2020. First, he needs to play a single game for the Amazins.
Even with subpar defense on the infield, the team cannot pass on a starter they believe can win them games. We’ll get a taste of what the 2015 American League Cy Young winner has left up close and personal at some point this season.
In the meantime, we can root against Keuchel in his attempt to re-establish value and win with the Braves. Maybe next year he’s one of our guys.
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Needless to say, the bullpen should still be the priority. For this organization, it’s as much about quantity as it is quality. There isn’t an arm, shoulder, or elbow I trust in the foreseeable future coming into the game in relief.