The Houston Astros and Dallas Keuchel have not gotten any traction going on a potential long-term contract extension. After receiving the American League (AL) Cy Young Award, many believed that Keuchel and the Astros would come to an agreement for an extension, but according to the pitcher's agent, talks have not even begun.
Keuchel's agent, Darek Braunecker, was recently interviewed by the MLB Network Radio and mentioned that the club and his client did not discuss a possible contract extension in the last couple of months.
This offseason, the reigning American League Cy Young winner is eligible for arbitration for the first time. He is set for a significant payout in 2016 thanks to his dominant performance in 2015 capped by the said award. He earned the league minimum last year (approximately $524,500) and according to MLBTradeRumors.com, his predicted arbitration salary for the upcoming season would be $6.4 million, or almost 12 times what he earned last season.
"At this point, we have not engaged the club in any sort of long-term discussions," Braunecker said on the show. "It's common knowledge that we had some discussion during the season last year and it was just preliminary seeing where one another stood. They approached us, kicked the tires, and got a sense where both parties were at that time."
As recently as Spring Training 2014, the 28-year-old pitcher was fighting for a rotation spot, but his transformation into a genuine ace atop the Astros rotation was completed with a dominant follow-up to an impressive 2014 season. He led the AL with 232 innings and worked to a very good 2.48 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, and an AL-best 61.7 percent ground-ball rate. Keuchel also finished fifth in AL MVP voting and won his second Gold Glove consecutively.
Furthermore, Houston announced on Friday that they have agreed to take in a pair of Dominican players. Right-handed pitcher Cesar Valdez and outfielder Eury Perez signed minor-league deals and are invited to the team's major league training camp this spring.
Valdez, 30, saw brief MLB action five years ago but has pitched exclusively abroad since 2012. His return to the league was likely driven by his 2015 stint in Mexico. While there, he worked for the Olmecas de Tobasco and threw 160 2/3 innings in 23 starts and racked up 9.0 K/9 against 1.6 BB/9.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old Perez has played in the Majors in each of his last four seasons with the Atlanta Braves (2015), the New York Yankees (2014) and the Washington Nationals (2012-13). Last season, the outfielder had his first extended stay in the majors, appearing in a career-high 47 games and accumulating a total of 133 plate appearances. He slashed .269/.331/.303 without a home run. He also played 64 games at Triple-A Gwinnett and managed to hit .297 (70x236) with a .370 on-base percentage.