Dallas Keuchel won the Cy Young Award and a World Series ring, and Craig Kimbrel is on a performance trajectory that might lead to his making an induction speech in Cooperstown. Their bona fides are alluring for fans desperate to fill roster holes for their favorite teams, which is why Kimbrel's name is mentioned on sports talk radio so often in Atlanta, and why Keuchel is repeatedly brought up in New York and elsewhere.
But just about all of the club evaluators who make personnel decisions these days are guilty of recency bias -- they don't care how many career saves Kimbrel has or that he led the NL in saves in four straight seasons, and they don't care how brilliant Keuchel was against the Yankees in the 2015 wild-card game. Instead, just about all of the evaluators who matter will focus on this question: How much can the 2019 versions of Kimbrel and Keuchel help their team's chances for success?
And many teams simply do not look at either pitcher, as accomplished as they are, as being a rock-solid solution with performance success all but guaranteed. Rather, they wonder about Keuchel's diminishing velocity, where it stands and how it will play, and they remember how Kimbrel struggled to throw strikes in the postseason last year. They remember that when the Red Sox had a chance to close out the Dodgers in the World Series, Boston manager Alex Cora went with Chris Sale, rather than Kimbrel, and they wonder what that really meant. They wonder, as well, about whether the two pitchers will be more effective after sitting unsigned the past four months, because they've seen so many other players -- including Greg Holland in 2018, and Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales in 2014 -- struggle or get hurt following their unaffiliated time away from game action.
There is serious interest in Keuchel and Kimbrel, but it is measured. As one GM noted over the weekend, if teams were salivating over two decorated pitchers, Keuchel and Kimbrel would already be under contract.
As of 12:01 a.m. Monday, the two players are no longer tied to draft-pick compensation, and the industry expectation is that both will agree to terms very soon.
Based on conversations with executives around baseball, these are at least some of the teams to watch: