The Pittsburgh Pirates have found their ace. Mitch Keller, a former top-100 prospect who seemed to have lost his way, has become one of the best pitchers in the National League. Keller started to put it together last season, pitching to a sub-3 ERA in the second half of 2022. He has carried that success over to the 2023 season.
On the year Keller is sporting an impressive 2.38 ERA with a FIP under 3. He has been especially dominant of late, throwing a complete game shutout against the Rockies. He followed up that performance with another stellar game throwing 7 shutout innings against the Orioles. Even more impressive was the fact that he punched out 13 hitters.
The kid has arrived, his stuff is nasty with a fastball reaching nearly 100 miles per hour at times. He is exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates needed him to be, a true top-of-the-rotation type arm. Now, it is time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to reward Mitch Keller.
Well, according to Bob Nightengale of the USA Today the Pittsburgh Pirates have indeed held talks with Keller about a new deal. Nightengale posted in his most recent column:
"The Pirates and starting pitcher Mitch Keller are in negotiations on a long-term contract extension. Keller, 27, is earning $2,437,500 this year and is eligible for free agency after the 2025 season."
Keller is a classic extension candidate. If the Bucs feel like they are going to continue to compete then there is no reason to move on him but rather keep him. We saw the team move on from veteran pitchers in the past but the Organization is in a much different spot now.
Keller will enter his 2nd year of arbitration after the 2023 season. The team could definitely look to build an extension, creating a set salary for the next two arbitration years, and keeping him here for the long run. The team has made a couple of extensions within the last year, locking up Keller would be very suggestive of the plans for the coming years.