Left-hander Dallas Keuchel is the latest free agent to receive real interest from the two clubs, sources said. Keuchel, who turns 32 in January, posted a 3.75 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 19 starts for the Braves in 2019, when he didn't sign until June.
Keuchel is a client of powerful agent Scott Boras, who got one of his premier clients a record contract Monday afternoon. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg agreed to a seven-year, $245-million deal to return to the Nationals, according to reports. That set a record for the most money ever given to a pitcher and the highest average annual value for a pitcher. It set the bar high for the pitching market and is likely to be topped when ace right-hander Gerrit Cole signs sometime this offseason.
The Cubs need to add another starting pitcher after the exit of Cole Hamels in free agency and with Jon Lester and Jose Quintana only having one year left on their contracts. The trouble for the Cubs is they have little wiggle room in their payroll budget at the moment, with more than $180 million committed to 17 players. They would likely need to make another move before adding a player in the price range of Keuchel.
The White Sox are in a better situation to move quickly at the Winter Meetings in the coming days. They're looking to add a veteran pitcher after recently missing out right-hander Zack Wheeler, who signed with the Phillies. While Keuchel is on the tail end of his prime, his drop-off projects to be less significant than that of many other pitchers because velocity isn't his calling card. He relies heavily on pinpoint command and his off-speed stuff, similarly to former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle.
Keuchel won the American League Cy Young award in 2015 and has a 3.67 ERA for his career. He has been pretty durable, averaging 29 starts between 2015-'18. He didn't miss a start for the Braves this past season after joining them late.
Outfielder Nick Castellanos is another player that both teams have interest in. Castellanos became a fan favorite and energized the organization after Cubs acquired him in a trade deadline deal in late July, as he hit .312 with a 1.002 OPS in 51 games for Chicago. Like with Keuchel, the Cubs have financial concerns when it comes to possibly retaining Castellanos. The White Sox are in dire need of a right fielder, and Castellanos remains on their radar.