It’s hard to sense what the market is for Johnny Cueto right now. The Arizona Diamondbacks want him, or maybe they did before, while the Los Angeles Dodgers are also possibly into the right handed starting pitcher.
Cueto, buoyed by one strong World Series performance for the Kansas City Royals which sorta erased his so-so regular season with them after getting traded there by the Cincinnati Reds, is looking for some big money in what should be his last major, big paying, long term deal, considering he’ll be turning 30 in two months. This is the contract to get paid big time for players, with Cueto expecting a lot more than the $10 million a season he was paid the last two years.
He turned down a $120 million offer from the Diamondbacks, who have been very busy on the bullpen and rotation side of the roster and might no longer have the money available to compete for another high caliber, or at least expensive, starting pitcher. An All-Star in 2014, Cueto has a label of someone who struggles when playing on the road and his playoff repertoire wasn’t great either, but three of his four performances last season were good enough to probably quiet down some fears regarding his ability under pressure, especially the one in the World Series against the Mets.
One team looking to make a splash after losing Zack Greinke is the Dodgers, who have been about trimming down their payroll, but not having to re-sign Greinke means they have money for someone like Cueto, who isn’t asking for quite the same kind of money. A new manager and maybe a new cheaper, leaner approach; still the Dodgers aren’t going to refrain from all spending, including in free agency.
And how about the Royals? Well, it depends on Cueto. If he’s still aiming for $20-25 million a season for over five or six years, the Royals are out of the picture. But if the market doesn’t help Cueto get his wish, maybe the team he won a championship with falls back into the picture, maybe having some things better paying teams don’t.