The Mets have remained in "continued contact" with free agent starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, SNY's Andy Martino reported on Wednesday, adding that the "situation is worth watching." Now, we might know what it would cost for the Mets -- or another interested team -- to land Keuchel.
Keuchel, 31, is reportedly seeking a one-year deal that will pay him more than the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Astros he turned down during the offseason or a long-term contract at a lower salary, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Rosenthal notes, though, that it's possible Keuchel -- who he says is throwing 95-pitch simulated games every five days to get ready -- doesn't get either of those requests.
"Neither option is necessarily available now that the season has started," Rosenthal said. "And the longer that Keuchel waits, the more he will sacrifice in a prorated deal and the longer it will take him to prepare."
When it comes to the Mets potentially signing Keuchel, it's important to note that the team is saving $10 million this season since Jacob deGrom's contract extension reduced his 2019 salary from $17 million to $7 million.
The Mets are skipping No. 5 starter Jason Vargas' next turn in the rotation in order to have Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard pitch on more regular rest.
Vargas, who is earning $8 million this season -- with the Mets holding an $8 million club option for 2020 that contains a $2 million buyout -- wasn't sharp in his first start of the season, allowing two runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out two in 5.0 innings against the Marlins.
Beyond Vargas, the Mets don't have many solid options. They don't want to shift Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman from the bullpen to the rotation, and their best options in Triple-A Syracuse are Corey Oswalt and Chris Flexen.
While Keuchel has taken a step back from the dominance he displayed in 2015, he was still solid in 2018 -- posting a 3.74 ERA (3.69 FIP) and 1.31 WHIP in 204.2 innings, though his strikeout rate continued to dip (down to 6.73 after being 7.72 in 2017).
Combine the dip in strikeouts with the alarming amount of hits Keuchel allowed last season (211 in 204.2 innings) and the fact that his fastball velocity has always been relatively low (he averaged 89.3 MPH last season, nearly identical to the 89.2 MPH he has averaged during his career), and you get a pitcher teams might be wary to make a large investment to.
Still, Keuchel would improve most rotations -- including the Mets -- and should be under strong consideration as his price continues to drop.