NEW YORK (AP) — Pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel, the last two top free agents on the market, can sign starting Monday without their new teams having to forfeit amateur draft picks as compensation.
Both turned down $17.9 million qualifying offers in November, Keuchel from Houston and Kimbrel from the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
Under baseball’s labor contract, compensation is eliminated for free agents who sign starting on the day the amateur draft begins.
Keuchel, a 31-year-old left-hander, was 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 34 starts last season for the Astros. A two-time All-Star, he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015. He struck out 216 that year, but he fanned 153 last season, when he had a $13.2 million, one-year deal.
He is 76-63 with a 3.66 ERA in seven major league seasons, all with the Astros.
Kimbrel is a seven-time All-Star who led the NL in saves in both 2013 and 2014 after tying for the lead in 2011 and 2012. The 31-year-old right-hander has 333 saves in 367 chances over nine major league seasons, going 31-19 with a 1.91 ERA. His strikeouts per nine innings dropped to 13.86 last year from 16.43 in 2017.
Kimbrel had a $13 million base salary and earned $1,443,939 in bonuses last season in the option year of a contract he signed with Atlanta in 2014, a deal that originally guaranteed $42 million over four seasons.
Before Monday, a new team signing either player would have lost at least one draft pick and possibly two, and some teams would have lost international signing bonus allocation. The exact penalty is tied to whether a team paid luxury tax last year, and whether it paid or received revenue-sharing money.