Dallas Keuchel, Ex-Cy Young winner, DFA’d by White Sox

Dallas Keuchel gave the Chicago White Sox a boost two years ago, helping a team with an exciting young core reach the playoffs.

He posted a 1.99 ERA and finished fifth in Cy Young voting that season. Unfortunately, that ended up being Keuchel’s most successful season in Chicago.

The veteran left-hander, a five-time Gold Glove winner who won the Cy Young in 2015, was designated for assignment on Saturday.

Keuchel is 2-5 with a 7.88 ERA in eight starts this year. He signed a $55.5 million, three-year contract with the White Sox in December 2019.

“You’ve got to look at the career,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s got a lot to be proud of. … I don’t think anyone in this uniform wouldn’t trade their career going forward the next 10, 12 years for what he’s done.”

“Given the back of the baseball card, so to speak, we wanted to give him the opportunity this season to get back on track,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “There was not a magic number of starts, necessarily, that were required before we made that decision.”

The 34-year-old Keuchel was tagged for six runs and seven hits in two innings in Thursday’s 16-7 loss to the Red Sox. Hahn said they had a “heart-to-heart” conversation the next day.

“He expressed his own disappointment that he wasn’t able to deliver on what we needed from him,” Hahn said.

The White Sox also have Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Johnny Cueto in their rotation, and Lance Lynn is coming back from right knee surgery. Vince Velasquez made seven starts for the team before pitching three hitless innings in relief on Tuesday night.

The White Sox also recalled infielder Danny Mendick from Triple-A Charlotte before Saturday night’s game against the crosstown Cubs.

Keuchel broke into the majors in 2012 with Houston, where he spent seven seasons. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA in 33 starts for the Astros.

Keuchel is 101-87 with a 3.86 ERA in 262 career games, including 251 starts.

Keuchel is owed $14,456,044 for the remainder of his contract: $12,956,044 in salary for the rest of this season, plus a $1.5 million buyout of his 2023 option.

If he is released, another team could sign him for a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum, with the White Sox responsible for the rest.

Whether that financial incentive will prompt a team to take a chance on Keuchel remains to be seen. 

There was already some speculation on social media over the weekend, including around the Mets (31-17), who lead the NL East by 8.5 games but have a 3.75 team ERA, barely better than league average.

A return to Houston, the team that drafted and developed him, however, seems unlikely.

The Astros have the third-best team ERA in MLB at 2.94 and feature a rotation led by Justin Verlander (2.03), Framber Valdez (2.83) and Cristian Javier (2.43).

Reporting by the Associated Press.

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