The Chicago White Sox designated veteran lefty starter Dallas Keuchel for assignment on Saturday. The move removes Keuchel from the 40-man roster and gives the club seven days to trade Keuchel or place him on irrevocable outright waivers. The decision to DFA Keuchel means the White Sox will be on the hook for the remainder of his $18 million salary for 2022.
Keuchel in his age-34 season has struggled badly. Across eight starts, he's pitched to a 7.88 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 20 walks -- 18 unintentional -- in 32 innings. Keuchel in 2021 registered a 5.28 ERA with 105 runs allowed in 162 innings. The Sox signed Keuchel to a three-year, $55.5 million contract prior to the abbreviated 2020 season, and he fared quite well in his first year with Chicago, as he put up a 1.99 ERA in 11 starts. Since then, however, he's met with little success.
Keuchel, a five-time Gold Glover and the 2015 AL Cy Young winner, has never boasted good velocity, but his deep repertoire and strong groundball tendencies have afforded him much success earlier in his career. This season, however, he's posting the lowest groundball rate of his career.
The White Sox don't have a particularly deep rotation, but the somewhat surprising reemergence of veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto may have given them the motivation to cut ties with Keuchel. It remains to be seen who will fill Keuchel's spot in the rotation.
As a veteran, Keuchel has the right to refuse assignment to the minors, which means he's likely going to clear waivers, be released, and become a free agent. Given the track record of success in past season, Keuchel may have suitors, particularly since signing him would require only the prorated league-minimum salary. The White Sox would required to pay the rest of his 2022 salary.