Tim Brown of Yahoo spoke with Dallas Keuchel who, still, nearly a month and a half into the season, remains a free agent.
Keuchel says he’s gotten many offers, but has instructed his agent, Scott Boras, to turn them down because they do not compensate him fairly. What is he asking? He doesn’t say, but he does suggest that the number he and Boras have come up with is not some wild pie-in-the-sky thing. Rather, it was arrived at in much the same way that teams arrive at their valuations of players. A simply crunching of numbers and assessment of his likely value going forward:
“Am I the best at this point in time? No. But am I more than or better than some of the offers I’ve been given? Absolutely. That’s not me being greedy. That’s just my compensation in the market from what the analytical data is telling me. I didn’t come up with this. The front offices came up with this. So now they’re trying to tell me I’m less than what the analytical data is saying. How is that possible? . . . It’s not just the front offices who have all these numbers. Players and agencies now have the access and the knowledge to do the same thing. My asking price and my due diligence is not just out of left field. It has come to me through my own career path, my own career numbers, and then what my market is valued at this point in time. To this point it hasn’t been matched.”
Now, obviously, what a player and his agent says he is worth is going to differ a bit from what a team says. But if what Keuchel is saying is true and he is putting a reasonable value on his services, as opposed to wanting to hit some number based on his ego, it should be the sort of thing that would begin a substantive negotiation with a club or with several clubs after which a compromise is reached. It cannot, if that were the case, be a situation in which Keuchel can simply be painted as being unrealistic or making ridiculous demands as so many people who comment on articles like this one tend to presume.
So what’s the deal? As Brown notes, it’s almost certainly the qualifying offer and draft pick compensation tied to Keuchel. Teams place a huge amount of value on the draft pick because it represents a future player who, theoretically, can be controlled by the team from anywhere between six and 12 years depending on how long he’s in the minors. The disconnect between what Keuchel wants and what teams are offering is almost certainly a function of teams putting a big number on the lost pick and Keuchel and Boras putting less on it. Or, for that matter, considering that a cost the team should bear, not Keuchel.
Which gets to the core of just how bad a decision it was for the players to ever agree to the qualifying offer, but that cake has already been baked.