Keuchel to join Braves soon, will start Saturday in Triple-A
The team confirmed Friday night that the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner had agreed to a one-year contract. He's scheduled to pitch Saturday for Triple-A Gwinnett.
During a conference call, Keuchel said he has been pitching seven innings in simulated games in Southern California, and he's eager to start pitching for the Braves.
"I'm built up to go 5 or 6 innings at least," he said. "There's no concrete timetable, but I would expect, knowing how I operate, it wouldn't be long at all."
Keuchel's contract pays him $13 million, a prorated share for 114 days of the contract's salary of $21,210,527. He went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 34 starts last season for Houston and turned down a $17.9 million qualifying offer in November.
The two-time All-Star didn't voice any regrets about how things turned out. He joins a Braves team that won the NL East last year and is in the thick of the division race this season.
"They were one of the teams I had pinpointed going into free agency, with how youthful and exciting their team could be," Keuchel said. "I've always been an advocate of this formula — a great mixture of veteran leadership and young talent. It could become special. Hopefully I can bring a little something extra."
Keuchel is 31. Atlanta's all 28-and-under rotation thus far has been led by 21-year-old rookie right-hander Mike Soroka, who improved to 7-1 with a 1.38 ERA by beating the Miami Marlins on Friday night.
Afterward, Soroka grinned when asked about the acquisition of Keuchel.
"It's a little surreal," Soroka said. "It's exciting when you see a team where we've got so much talent and experience. To add a guy like him hopefully gives us confidence to make a run for it."
Keuchel is 76-63 with a 3.66 ERA in seven major league seasons, all with the Astros.
"He makes everybody better," Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "The innings, the competitiveness, the experience, the winning — there are not a lot of opportunities to get guys like this. We're real excited."