Chicago White Sox Set To Pay $15 Million For Keuchel Not To Pitch
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Jerry Reinsdorf and his White Sox general manager, Rick Hahn, sent a loud message when they signed free agents Dallas Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal before the 2020 season.

Those deals, worth a combined $128.5 million, screamed that the team’s short rebuilding process was over. It was time to start contending for postseason spots.

Their latest transaction with Keuchel only hammered home how serious Reinsdorf and Hahn are about getting the Sox not only into the postseason but to a World Series. Keuchel was designated for assignment on Saturday, beginning a process that will almost certainly end with the team writing him a check for almost $15 million.

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That’s what is left on the three-year, $55.5-million deal the Sox wrote the 2015 Cy Young winner after he showcased himself well with Atlanta in the second half of 2019. Reinsdorf is eating it clear a long-term spot in the starting rotation for Johnny Cueto, who has looked great since signing a minor-league deal with the White Sox.

While Keuchel played a major role in the South Siders grabbing a wild card in the Covid 19-abbreviated 2020, he’s been ineffective (11-14 with a 5.71 ERA) the last two seasons. He allowed six runs in two innings in a loss to Boston on Thursday but afterward said he feels close to pitching successfully again.

Having started the season 22-22 and fallen five games behind Minnesota, the White Sox weren’t willing to wait for Keuchel to figure out how to win with his high-80s fastball and a changeup that hasn’t been a plus pitch since 2020.

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Keuchel, 34, has been at least somewhat a victim of regression to the means. He beat the odds by allowing only two home runs in 63 1/3 innings in 2020 but has since been pounded for 31 homers in 194 innings.

The quick decision on Keuchel removes the possibility of Keuchel reaching a $20 million vesting option for next season. But his slow start had left that as an unlikely possibility, as he needed to average 32 innings per month over the rest of the season to reach the 160-inning level necessary to vest his contract. He’s thrown 32 innings in a month only once in his three years with the White Sox.

The White Sox have a week to trade Keuchel before releasing him. His past success might get him a chance elsewhere but it’s hard to see how the Sox can expect any significant financial relief.

They’ll move on with Cueto in the mix behind Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech and Lance Lynn in the later stages of his recovery from knee surgery. Vince Velas

VLX
quez, Reynaldo Lopez and minor-leaguers Davis Martin and Jimmy Lambert serve as depth pieces.

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Keuchel was the only left-hander in the Sox rotation after they did not issue a Qualifying Offer to Carlos Rodon after last season. They had envisioned the possibility of Garrett Crochet following Kopech from the bullpen into the rotation before Crochet underwent Tommy John surgery.

Keuchel will be remembered for helping the White Sox go to the playoffs only two years after a 100-loss season. They are hoping to travel that path without him, and were willing to pay a high price for the opportunity.

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