LA Angels: The Dallas Kuechel Predicament
By Vincent Page
While the LA Angels have improved their rotation this offseason with the signings of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
That is why the fit between former Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Kuechel and the LA Angels has seemed natural throughout this free agency. Now, it looks as if that speculation may be coming to fruition, and the Halos and their fans better hope so.
The biggest reason this pairing seems more likely than in the past is due to Kuechel allegedly throwing a bullpen in Southern California for a handful of teams, one being the Angels. The other five teams are believed to be the Dodgers, Pirates, Nationals, and Rays.
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As noted by Buster Olney of ESPN, the market for Kuechel has been almost nonexistent this offseason. Some have concerns about his level of play, his age, and/or the compensation a team would have to give up to sign him. However, Kuechel is still only 31. His ERA sat at 3.74 last season, and while the advanced statistics might not be his biggest fan he has proven to know how to get the job done.
The biggest thing likely blocking the Angels from signing Kuechel would be the compensation. The money itself would be an obstacle considering the Halos had to “bust their budget” to some extent in order to sign reliever Cody Allen. To sign Kuechel, who’s contract would very likely be in the $10-15 million range, owner Arte Moreno would have to loosen Billy Eppler’s leash even more.
The team would also have to give up a draft pick, which may end up being even more of a deterrent than the salary. To see how great the Angels’ farm system has come since Eppler took over, just turn on a Spring Training game. For this team to sacrifice a draft pick for one of two years of Kuechel would be questionable.
However, if the Angels do decide to pull the trigger, say goodbye to the draft pick, and expand their budget just a fraction more, signing Kuechel would change the entire dynamic of this team. No longer would they rely on Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, or Jaime Barrie to be the #3 option, but instead a trio of Kuechel, Andrew Heaney, and Tyler Skaggs to man the front of the rotation.
And while Kuechel has not been at his former Cy Young level in years past, he has been performing consistently above-average and would have been seen as the ace of the Angels’ staff if he were in Anaheim.
I’m not saying the Angels should sign Kuechel, but I’m not saying they shouldn’t either. However, it would feel pretty good to steal one from the Astros, wouldn’t it?