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March 06, 2019

With Keuchel market drying up, Phillies may not be done free agent shopping just yet

The MLB season kicks off in just over three weeks, and despite an already incredibly busy offseason, the Phillies may not yet be done adding talent. 

We already know about the moves Matt Klentak and Co. have already made, both to bring in talent from the outside — Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen — and to take care of their own — like when they extended Aaron Nola — but there may be one more deal yet to be done. 

According to MLB insider Jon Heyman, who broke the Bryce Harper news and seems to have a good relationship with Harper's agent Scott Boras, the Phillies are one of the teams still in on free agent starter Dallas Keuchel. 

Interestingly enough, Keuchel's agent ... is one Scott Boras. And that's worth noting here for more than just the connection to Harper. Boras also represents Jake Arrieta, another former Cy Young winner the Phillies signed to a relatively short-term deal last offseason. Like Keuchel, Arrieta was one of the top arms on the market last year, but as the winter rolled on, the market for Arrieta evaporated and he was left to sign with the Phillies on a shorter-than-desired three-year deal worth $75 million. 

Now, it appears that same thing could be happening to Keuchel.

On Monday, ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Phillies were still considering the 2015 AL Cy Young winner, as the two have been linked throughout the offseason all the way back to early December. But again, they've remained interested in a short-term deal only. Suddenly, that might not be as big a stretch as one thinks, especially given the shrinking market for Keuchel.

The Phillies seem to have limited interest in Keuchel, and already have sacrificed their top pick to sign Bryce Harper, but they seem unlikely to offer anything beyond a very short-term deal. The Astros haven't been engaged on Keuchel in recent weeks, and while it's possible they could welcome him back, they might want to discount his deal because it's increasingly unlikely he'll be ready at the outset of this season, and because Houston would lose the draft pick compensation it might've gotten if Keuchel had signed elsewhere.

The Padres could use a veteran starter, but they have already spent big on Manny Machado this winter. Keuchel might make sense for the Dodgers if Clayton Kershaw were shut down to the degree that L.A. could count on insurance money, but Kershaw has played catch three of the past four days and seems to be progressing.

For a pitcher as accomplished as Keuchel, there will always be interest, but the clubs that seriously consider him now are vultures, more than likely, looking for a player whose market has been damaged.  []

Could the Phillies find a way to sign Keuchel to a similar deal to the one Arrieta signed last winter? It may have seemed like a stretch at one point this offseason. Now? Not so much... 

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