Dallas Keuchel drawing interest from at least eight teams

Dallas Keuchel
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It’s been an interesting offseason for free agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who has attracted interest from nearly every corner of the league since he parted ways with the Astros in November. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Rangers, Angels and Brewers have all recently expressed interest in the lefty, bringing the number of potential suitors up to eight after previous reports linked him to the Padres, Phillies, Reds, Braves and Nationals.

A frontrunner has yet to emerge here, though that’s understandable as a) agent Scott Boras will be driving negotiations from Keuchel’s end, b) the veteran starter is said to be seeking a significant five- to six-year commitment from his next club, and c) whichever team pays for his services in 2019 and beyond will also have to send along a draft pick, as Keuchel rejected the Astros’ one-year, $17.9-million qualifying offer. While there have been subtle hints that the market may be narrowing — the Padres are balking at the lefty’s “prohibitive asking price,” the Nationals aren’t interested in a long-term deal, and the Braves have all but erased him from their radar — there’s also some speculation that those who remain involved in discussions are on the cusp of making a big move.

The 30-year-old is coming off of another strong season in Houston, during which he earned his fourth career Gold Glove after posting a 12-11 record in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9 and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings. There’s no doubt that his consistency and award-winning status would be a boon for any one of the Brewers, Angels and Rangers’ rotations, though it’s worth noting that the Angels may have closed the book on rotation upgrades after acquiring Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, while the Rangers’ rebuilding status may temporarily exempt them from major signings without a postseason push in their immediate future.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.