The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin report that the San Diego Padres are engaged in continuing dialogue with Keuchel's camp.
The Padres seem determined to eventually add a starting pitcher to their young staff this season, especially given the recent reports in both the trade and free agent markets. They made a push to trade for Cleveland Indians righty Trevor Bauer and spoke with the Toronto Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman, according to Rosenthal and Lin. But, the Padres have been unwilling to meet the price of Keuchel's agent, Scott Boras, and the same goes for other teams monitoring the pitcher's market.
The Mets and Brewers are among the other clubs that have checked in on Keuchel, though the Brewers remain more interested in the other top remaining free agent, reliever Craig Kimbrel, sources say. The Mets continue to call on both Keuchel and Kimbrel as a matter of due diligence, and other contenders are taking the same approach, not wanting to be caught unaware if an opportunity arises; the Rays have stayed in touch on Kimbrel as well, sources say. Other NL East teams have a greater need for Kimbrel; the early days of the season already have exposed cracks in the bullpens of the Phillies, Nationals and especially the Braves.
Rosenthal and Lin note that the pair could wait until after this year's MLB draft, to avoid the following obstacle:
If Keuchel and Kimbrel do not receive offers they deem satisfactory, they could wait to sign until after the amateur draft in June. Such a move would remove one obstacle from their respective pursuits of market value, making them no longer subject to draft-pick compensation because they rejected qualifying offers.
Yes, both Keuchel and Kimbrel are on the wrong side of 30, but they are very fine arms, and either one of them could help any team win in 2019.