Heading into last offseason, the Phillies boasted an exclusively right-handed starting rotation and were desperate for a lefty starter. Not only did the team need a southpaw or two to balance out their rotation, but needed a serviceable starter to bolster a group that sported a 5.66 ERA for 2018 Phillies starters not named Aaron Nola.
With a need for both a productive starter and a left-handed starter, the tea leaves seemed to point towards a potential Dallas Keuchel-Phillies pairing. The pairing seemed even more likely once notable southpaw ace Patrick Corbin signed a 6-year pact with the Washington Nationals. Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote back in December following the Corbin signing:
Now that top lefty Patrick Corbin has signed with the rival Nationals, it’s time the Phillies make a serious run at Dallas Keuchel. One quick look at his credentials and it’s hard not to come away impressed with the 31-year old southpaw:
- ● 2015 AL Cy Young Award Winner
- ● 4x Gold Glove Winner
- ● 2x All-Star
- ● 2017 World Series Champ
As you can tell by the accolades, Keuchel is a proven, highly-decorated veteran in this league. Although he hasn’t captured his Cy Young form again, he is still an incredibly durable (lead the MLB in starts with 34 last season) and productive starter. Keuchel also hasn’t finished a season with an ERA over 4.00 in any of the past four seasons- an impressive feat considering he played in the hitter-friendly American League. The lefty Oklahoma native would slot in beautifully behind Nola and fellow 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.
Not only did the Phillies opt to sit on their hands all winter and shy away from Keuchel’s contract demands, but they allowed him to remain a free agent deep into the summer.
Keuchel wound up signing a 1-year, $13M deal with the rival Braves- a figure that should have been considered chump change for a Phils team that wanted to spend “stupid money” in the offseason- and has been effective since his return to the big leagues.
Keuchel is 8-5 with a 3.35 ERA this season. Furthermore, over his last 6 starts (37 IP), Keuchel is 5-0 with a 0.97 ERA and 35 strikeouts. His eight wins would rank second amongst Phillies starters and his 3.35 ERA would lead all Phils starters in that department.
Failing to ink him to a deal when the team was so desperately in need of a lefty starter is an egregious oversight by the Phillies front office and one that Keuchel himself shed light on following his six-inning, nationally-televised dismantling of the fightin’ Phils on Wednesday night. When asked if he had any extra incentive when facing Philly after the lack of interest in the offseason, Keuchel had this to say about the front office:
“I mean, if you don’t come calling what is there for me to be mad about?” he said. “I think a lot of those guys over there in the front office are
second-guessing themselves, and, I mean, I would too.”
Not only should the Phillies brass be second-guessing themselves, but they should also be questioning if everyone in the front office should return next season. It’s unacceptable to let such a talented player that fits a need sign for such a modest price, which the Phillies did (at least) twice this offseason between Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel, when you have World Series aspirations.
Perhaps the Phillies would be in the driver’s seat for one of the Wild Card spots had they pulled the trigger on a Keuchel deal this spring. Instead, their left scrambling for pitching production while he cruises to the postseason with their division rival.