White Sox DFA Dallas Keuchel in season’s first big shake-up

As Dallas Keuchel struggled to tread water, his postgame quotes often reflected reality that only Keuchel could see.

If you were charitable, you’d chalk it up to a veteran with some of baseball’s least imposing stuff requiring outward confidence to bounce back; faking it to resume making it. If you didn’t want to give him the benefit of the doubt, you saw a guy who only pointed a finger at himself to identify whose fault it wasn’t.

But in this last après-dud go-around, I noticed that Tony La Russa wasn’t as willing to indulge delusions.

Here’s Keuchel:

“I’m feeling myself, so that is a frustrating aspect of the last two starts. I was really, really feeling like myself in Boston, and then against New York at home, so to take a couple steps back is very frustrating. I knew that they were going to be looking out over the plate, and just one of those things where the cutter, right now, has been the pitch that’s kind of snake-bitten for me. It’s like five out of six pitches are really good, and then the one that’s not really good is getting hit.”

And here’s La Russa:

“Right away, most of the balls are in the air which shows that, at that point, movement wasn’t there. Location wasn’t there. So, that’s what I think. Today, when they start getting balls in the air, that means, at that point, he’s not sharp.

“Today was atypical for him, which happens to pitchers. Some days, stuff is not working as well and you don’t get the normal kind of outing. Believe me, he wanted to go more than two innings and we wanted him to go more than two innings.”

The previous time out, Keuchel was grouchy that La Russa pulled him after five innings, so I’m tempted to read that last sentence as a dig.

And maybe it was, because the White Sox designated Keuchel for assignment this afternoon. We’ll learn about the rotation plans later, but for the time being, they called up Danny Mendick to take his spot on the roster.

Keuchel dropped to 2-5 with a 7.88 ERA over 32 innings in 2022, with career worsts in most meaningful categories. He finished 17-16 with a 4.79 ERA over his time with the White Sox, and he’ll leave with a little more than $13 million of his three-year, $55 million contract still owed to him.

It’s both a positive move and an unflattering one. The White Sox needed to make a decision that showed a dissatisfaction with the status quo, and with Davis Martin, Vince Velasquez, Reynaldo López and Lance Lynn all options for starts over the coming weeks, Keuchel was the easiest one to swap out, even if his contractual obligation was the largest to swallow.

On the other hand, it’s Rick Hahn admitting that a key component of his free-agent strategy in this rebuild has faltered. The White Sox avoided splurging on the open market and instead settled for guys who couldn’t demand nine figures for considerable reasons. For Keuchel, it was the risk of decline for a guy whose fastball sat south of 90 mph. That manifested itself halfway through his deal, and it never relented.

PERTINENT: Dallas Keuchel isn’t White Sox’s biggest problem, but he’s an emblematic one

The White Sox have an off day on Monday to rearrange their rotation accordingly, so we’ll see how the White Sox deploy or delay the next man up. We’ll also get to see if Keuchel’s postgame deflections only annoyed fans, or if they rankled teammates and management.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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asinwreck

How many Jeff Keppingers can one team sign? With Rick Hahn in the front office, an infinite amount.

a-t

That’s not entirely fair. They don’t make the 2020 playoffs without him. Just a pity that his deal was for more than one year

metasox

Deal would have made more sense if ’20 had been the peak of the rebuild.

a-t

The team was so desperate for starting pitching. They picked the correct guy (Wheeler) to chase initially, but they should’ve kept upping their offer until his wife acquiesced.

metasox

That was the talk at the time. Though at some point, more money doesn’t matter.

a-t

MLBPA does exert quite a bit of pressure on its members to accept the highest $ amount. Agents too ofc

denman

I wasn’t a big fan of singing Keuchel. Still, to be fair to Hahn, the Sox did everything possible that off-season to persuade Wheeler to ignore the concerns of his fiancée. When those efforts fell short, Keuchel was arguably the best free-agent starter they had a realistic chance of signing. And, Keuchel delivered in 2020. Injury and rapid decline are risks that accompany signing players who have accumulated enough service time to be free agents. Dealing with Boras and signing Keuchel, I don’t think, constitutes the kind of mid-tier (or lower), one-year signings (Eaton) that we’ve seen too often. I’ll give Hahn credit for taking a risk on a reasonably high-priced, multi-year signing and for eating the millions of dollars owed once that player proved unproductive. That’s the kind of risk you have to be willing to take.

Last edited 3 months ago by denman
soxygen

I was never a fan of the signing – he always seemed like someone whose success was smoke and mirrors, and that formula often doesn’t age well – and I’m not surprised or sorry to see him go.

Obviously, he has not (publicly) held himself accountable. I’ll be interested in how the FO spins this to the fans. I am expecting no accountability there either. It would be nice to hear them acknowledge that it didn’t work out and make clear that they hope to learn from the situation (e.g. see whether there were signs of decline that should have been identified before the signing or early enough last year to get some value for him, etc). I imagine it will be some combination of defensive and obfuscatory though.

BenwithVen

I wonder how much of this was performance based versus them being tired of his complaining and snippy comments.

Either way, it needed be done.

a-t

ERAs near 8 speak louder than any media session

StockroomSnail

The money toilet remains unclogged.

calcetinesblancos

I liked the signing at the time, mainly because I thought it would help fill out the rotation with a veteran presence and the commitment wasn’t anything that could cripple us. But it would have been ridiculous to keep putting him out there and expecting him to magically turn it around.

Is Mendick going to play? Wish they would call up someone else. Preferably someone less boring.

Augusto Barojas

Now they just need to DFA La Russa. And then Harrison.

hankthetank35

Wow they did something that makes sense…

TLR bats Harrison 2nd

jhomeslice

If only they had Garcia hitting 3rd behind him, that might really energize the offense.

tommytwonines

Is Harrison a DFA candidate? I have no idea why they signed him after giving Leury a three-year deal (also a head-scratcher).

Bring up Sanchez and see what he can do.

hankthetank35

Yeah if they’re interested in fielding the best team they can then that would be the move. Start Sanchez at 2nd and then leury actually has some value just by being able to play anywhere when needed.

jhomeslice

They brought up Mendick for DK, and we all know what he can do. Why not bring up Yolbert instead? They would not even have to DFA Harrison to give Yolbert a shot.

jhomeslice

A good move, but does not bring they same joy as when they DFA’d Eaton last year. It is far more frustrating to watch a guy in the lineup every day who can’t hit than it is to watch a pitcher who is awful in half his starts.

itaita

Legit surprised they did this. I was expecting this to drag on through the rest of the season and become awkward as he creeped up on the option numbers. Although im already dreading either Reinsdorf or Hahn using his dead money number as a reason why they cant sign somebody in the off-season.

soxexile

Except that he shouldn’t have any dead money in 2023. As you rightly point out, they’re avoiding letting his option vest.

itaita

Ill never underestimate the ways the front office bend the truth to cry poor!

digger0910

Really would have liked them to call up Sanchez for that spot. Pretty uninspiring.

a-t

I do not understand the obsession with Sanchez. Nothing he’s doing indicates he will be meaningfully different from Harrison or Mendick. He’s got a 104 wRC+ via a .354 BABIP and no pop. The difference between his AAA performance and Harrison’s MLB performance is 140 points of BABIP and a few walks… the former of which the 2019 bouncy ball in AAA is certainly helping with. Let’s not be fooled by the huge disparity between AAA and MLB offense.

HallofFrank

Yep. He’s the sexier option because he’s a prospect. But Mendick has outperformed him at AAA—and Mendick has outperformed half the big league club while in Chicago, too. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a week or two of starts at 2B.

digger0910

Cool yeah Danny Mendick it is you guys are probably right. Save us, Danny.

digger0910

Oh man. All this time I thought I just wanted Sanchez to get called up and get a shot. I had no idea I was OBsESsED! Really need to get a hold of myself.

soxygen

Really? Sanchez at least has the benefit of upside, and maybe even trade value, and promoting him has an added benefit of at least un-jamming an infield log jam in the minors.

To me that seems better than playing a couple of guys who admittedly might be teensy-weeny but better this year but not enough to make a difference. If this season comes down to Danny Mendick versus Y Sanchez at 2B then this season was a house of cards.

In fact, once they signed Harrison to split time with Garcia they probably should have traded Mendick. He represents useless depth to us at this point, and the team would have been wise to try to get some value for him before he runs out of options or is overexposed.

Last edited 3 months ago by soxygen
#3 for HOF

Rick, Kenny and Jerry need to be DFA’d. Tony too.