Sox Counting On Keuchel's Production, Leadership

By 670 The Score
(670 The Score) In officially announcing their signing of veteran left-hander Dallas Keuchel on Monday, the White Sox praised both his steady production and the intangibles that he can bring to the team.

"We viewed this signing as the next logical step in our process," general manager Rick Hahn said. "This was a high priority in the offseason by not only adding someone to stabilize the rotation but someone who will be a key contributor inside the clubhouse as well."

Keuchel, who turns 32 in January, signed a three-year, $55.5-million deal. He will be paid $18 million in each of the next three seasons on a contract with a $1.5 million buyout. The deal includes a $20-million team option for 2023.

In Keuchel, the White Sox have added a durable pitcher with a career 3.67 ERA and also an individual whom they expect can help lead a young clubhouse as they look to compete for a playoff berth in 2020.

"We have spent a lot of time over the past few years acquiring what we think is highly impactful young pitching," Hahn said. "It has always been our plan at one point to add someone to this rotation who could stabilize the group between the lines but also someone to mentor those young starters as they take those steps toward fulfilling their potential at the big league level."

Hahn made it clear that the White Sox don't expect Keuchel to regain his Cy Young-winning form of 2015. They just want him to be what he has been more recently. 

Keuchel posted a 3.75 ERA and 1.37 WHIP last season, when he didn't sign with the Braves until June. He had a 3.74 ERA and made an MLB-high 34 starts in 2018.

"We are not expecting anything more from Dallas except what we have seen in recent years," Hahn said. "But his overall effect should have a very meaningful impact on the next White Sox championship club."

Given the stage of their rebuild, the White Sox's signing of Keuchel has been compared by some to the Cubs' addition of ace left-hander Jon Lester before the 2015, which is when their rebuild really took off to the next level. Keuchel was happy to hear himself compared to Lester.

"I like the Jon Lester comparison," Keuchel said via teleconference. "He is a monster of a human being. I go 6-2, 215 and I am a dwarf compared to him. I certainly appreciate being compared to him. Honestly, there really wasn't a mentor for me when we were in the (Houston Astros') rebuild. I came in a time when it was a full-blown rebuild. The only established guy was Bud Norris, but he was still trying to make himself a commodity in the big leagues. If I would name somebody it would be Brent Strom, the pitching coach with Houston who is still there. He really helped shape me as a pitcher and a person.

"I don't really try to be a leader. I don't think you can do that. I just try to be myself. I think about situations that lead to that. I just hope I can be there for some of these guys. No one person is going to make a whole team in baseball. I want to be a part of five guys in the rotation clicking at one time. I just think back about certain times that clicked and pull from those. That method usually sticks with younger guys."

Keuchel had been a primary target on the White Sox's radar since the offseason began, Hahn said.

"Te reputation is something that is built through the length of a career," Hahn said. "Dallas is somebody we have admired from that standpoint from afar for a while now. We are just fortunate that things have lined up from both our standpoint and the player's standpoint and add him for the next several years."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.