MLB hot stove: Braves reportedly have Dallas Keuchel atop their free agent wish list

The Atlanta Braves have already had a pretty active offseason to date. They've inked Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann to one-year contracts and still have a lot of money to spend this winter. A lot.

Heading into the Winter Meetings this week the Braves are said to be seeking a starting pitcher and a corner outfielder, as well as at least one reliever. Veteran left-hander Dallas Keuchel is reportedly atop their wish list.

Keuchel might be the best free agent starter still on the board now that Patrick Corbin has signed with the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi has re-signed with the Red Sox. The Astros made Keuchel the qualifying offer, so whichever team signs him will have give up a draft pick(s) and international bonus money to do so.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old Keuchel threw 204 2/3 innings with a 3.74 ERA (108 ERA+) this past season. His strikeout (7.7 K/9 to 6.7 K/9) and ground ball (66.8 percent to 53.7 percent) rates both dropped noticeably from 2017 to 2018. Keuchel has thrown 518 1/3 innings with a 3.77 ERA (106 ERA+) since being named the 2015 AL Cy Young winner.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros
The Braves reportedly have Dallas Keuchel atop their pitching wish list. USATSI

The Braves are loaded with pitching prospects -- nine of their top 12 prospects are pitchers according to MLB.com -- but they're still seeking a veteran to stabilize the rotation going into 2019. Their rotation depth chart currently looks like this:

  1. Mike Foltynewicz
  2. Sean Newcomb
  3. Kevin Gausman
  4. Julio Teheran
  5. Touki Toussaint
  6. Max Fried
  7. Mike Soroka
  8. Luiz Gohara
  9. Kolby Allard
  10. Bryse Wilson

That is an enviable group of young pitchers. There is no such thing as too much pitching depth though, and if the Braves do add Keuchel or another free-agent starter, it would free up some of those young pitchers for bullpen work or even a trade to address other roster needs.

We ranked Keuchel as the second best free-agent pitcher and seventh best free agent overall at the beginning of the offseason. He is currently our fifth best unsigned free agent.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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