A Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel signing would more likely come after the MLB Draft as the Phillies and others wouldn’t lose any picks or pool money.
The season is almost two months in, yet some of the biggest free agents from the last offseason remain available: Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. The Phillies were linked to each of them at various points during the winter, but nothing ever came of it (obviously).
Now as we reach the halfway mark in May, neither player appears close to signing. At this point in the season, a signing likely won’t occur until after the MLB Draft in early June according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic [subscription required].
Both Kimbrel and Keuchel were given qualifying offers by their original teams, the Red Sox and Astros. That means those teams would get draft compensation, while the others would lose a draft pick and corresponding signing bonus money.
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Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors confirmed with the league that Keuhcel and Kimbrel’s qualifying offers would no longer bind them once the clock hits midnight on June 2. Then they become like any other free agent, making signing them an easier sell.
If Philadelphia were to sign Keuchel or Kimbrel before June 2, they would lose the No. 91 pick and $647,300 in slot money.
While drafting and developing talent isn’t the main focus of the team now, it remains a priority. They want to have as much slot money as possible to help sign their draftees.
However, Rosenthal notes that the pick Philadelphia would lose would be lower than others, giving them less reason to be worried about signing either player. He states they are likely more deterred by the actual price of signing the two, perhaps saving that money for contract extensions for Rhys Hoskins or J.T. Realmuto.
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The price for Kimbrel and Keuchel has dropped since the offseason. Injuries to the rotation and bullpen, including losing David Robertson for another month, may lead them to sign one of the two. It should be noted they’re not the only team who could be keeping tabs on the two.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times recently reported that the Rays are keeping an eye on Craig Kimbrel to bolster their bullpen., Jon Heyman of MLB Network said that the Rays are also looking at Keuchel after losing Tyler Glasnow for four to six weeks. The Rays’ success this year could motivate them to splurge for one of these two.
Whoever Keuchel and Kimbrel wind up signing with (who knows who that’ll be at this point), it likely won’t occur until after they lose their restricted status.