We have heard for weeks now that the Cincinnati Reds are going to have a ‘record payroll’ in 2019 while also being on an exhaustive hunt to ‘get the pitching.’ There have been speculative connections on the trade rumor market, with the likes of Marcus Stroman and even Noah Syndergaard bandied about, and there have been ample notes about the team’s interest in free agents like Matt Harvey, Derek Holland, and J.A. Happ.
Today, though, we got the first nugget that suggested this all might be real, as Fancred’s Jon Heyman reports that the Reds are ‘all over’ free agent - and former AL Cy Young Award winner- Dallas Keuchel.
Cincinnati has trouble attracting free agent pitchers to that park, but they are aiming high here https://t.co/ZCtL64imaJ— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 29, 2018
Pegged to land something in the range of a 4 year, $82 million deal this winter by the folks at MLB Trade Rumors, Keuchel is absolutely one of the biggest names on the free agent pitching market. While his 2018 wasn’t nearly as flashy as that of, say, Patrick Corbin, he’s built a solid career beyond just last year doing something the Reds desperately have needed in that time - recording outs, and doing so by inducing beaucoup ground balls.
In fact, over the last four seasons, only three pitchers in all MLB have produced grounders at a more prolific rate than Keuchel’s 59.1%, while his 21.8% fly-ball percentage also ranks fourth in all MLB in that time. In other words, it’d be hard for him to contribute to a Reds pitching staff that has surrendered far and away the most dingers of any staff in baseball in that stretch when the balls ever-so-often come off the bat as grounders to a talented infield, in theory.
This certainly seems like something a bit too good to be true, as there are current contenders out there who will also be vying for Keuchel’s services. And given that Scott Boras is his agent, it’s going to take every last dollar on every last margin to get a contract signed, and the Reds - despite their apparent willingness to spend - are in pretty uncharted territory at this end of the free agent market.