LAS VEGAS — Let’s start our first weekday of the Winter Meetings with some rumors and speculation. We’ll have a good bit of that until, you know, something actually happens.
First up: Dallas Keuchel, the top free agent pitcher remaining on the market. Jon Heyman says the Braves, who are in the market for a starter, are targeting him. In this they are not alone, as the Phillies, who missed out on Patrick Corbin, and the Reds, who would like a pitcher who doesn’t allow a lot of fly balls are each reported to be focused on Keuchel as well. There was a random report that the Blue Jays were interested in him too, but that seems off to me given where they are on their rebuild.
Keuchel, who will turn 31 on New Year’s Day, was 12-11 in 34 starts last year, posting an ERA of 3.74 in 204.2 innings. His peripherals have declined fairly consistently since his Cy Young season in 2015, so the question is whether the team that signs him is paying for his past or for what he might reasonably be expected to provide in the future.
We’ve talked a lot about Curt Schilling’s Hall of Fame candidacy over the years.
Bill has argued that, if voters are going to use the character clause to keep certain players out, they should keep Curt Schilling out. I’ve differed on that, not because I think Schilling is a good person — he’s loathsome, actually — but because I find the character clause to be illegitimate and would never, if I had a vote, use it to impact my vote. So, yes, I’d put Schilling on my ballot if I had one.
I’m not alone in this, of course. At the moment Schilling has support on about 72% of ballots which have been made public. My guess is that he’ll fall a tad short when results are announced tomorrow — non-public ballots tend to include fewer players on them — but we’ll see.
I am not the only non-BBWAA member who would vote for Schilling. He’s got some top level support too. From the President of the United States:
Ballots had to be submitted by December 31, so it’s not like this is gonna have any impact on the vote totals. If it came earlier, though, one wonders if it would. And one wonders if that’d help Schilling or hurt him.