Johnny Cueto Rumors

Quick Hits: Dodgers, Angels, Reds, Mets

The Dodgers might be able to take advantage of a productive season from Andre Ethier to clear a logjam in their outfield and add pitching, Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests. Ethier is in the midst of a resurgent .276/.361/.459 season, so now might be a good time to deal him and move Carl Crawford back into a starting role. The approximately $46MM remaining on Ethier’s contract would likely still be an obstacle. But Sherman suggests there might be a match with the Angels. In one scenario, the Angels could send the Dodgers C.J. Wilson, who has about $28MM remaining on his own deal. There aren’t any specific rumors connecting the Angels and Dodgers, and a deal involving Wilson and Ethier would surely be complex, due to the contracts involved. The Angels have, however, reportedly recently shown interest in another lefty hitter, David Murphy, and they’re about to get Jered Weaver back from the DL. So perhaps Sherman’s idea isn’t that far-fetched. Here are more quick notes from around the big leagues.

  • Reds players knew to expect the team to trade Johnny Cueto, but the team’s trade of Cueto to the Royals for three left-handed pitchers still stung, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. “Shocking is not the word, but it’s kind of a blah feeling,” says Jay Bruce. “Because everybody anticipated it happening, but for it to actually happen and someone I’ve personally known for 11 years now, just poof, gone.” Bruce, of course, is himself a candidate to be traded this week, along with Mike Leake and perhaps others. It can be easy to forget that the trades we outsiders discuss so matter-of-factly do affect the players on a personal level.
  • In contrast, the Mets are excited to have the newly acquired Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson on their side, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “That versatility is enormous, to keep key, quality players on the field,” says Mets manager Terry Collins. “It’s hugely enormous.” As Kepner points out, that might be an overstatement, but the Mets are getting help, or are on the verge of getting it, from Uribe, Johnson, returning players Jenrry Mejia (suspension) and Travis d’Arnaud (elbow), and newly promoted top prospect Michael Conforto. The Mets do have reasons to be hopeful. “I’ve been in Chicago, and nobody’s thinking like Chicago’s winning. I’ve been in San Fran, and nobody’s thinking like San Fran’s winning. And they win,” says Uribe. “In baseball, you never know what could happen.”

More Fallout From The Johnny Cueto Trade

We already collected one set of reactions to the trade of Johnny Cueto to the Royals. Here are a few more odds and ends from the deal.

  • In Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed and John Lamb, the Reds are receiving three potential big-league starters, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes. The Reds sacrificed a draft pick as a result of trading Cueto, but the three lefties they received have more than enough talent to make up for it. The Royals, meanwhile, traded from solid minor league pitching depth.
  • The Yankees scouted Cueto for five weeks, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. The Yankees and Reds also had brief discussions involving Cueto and Yankees starter Ivan Nova, but the talks did not develop. It is, of course, highly unlikely that Nova could have been centerpiece of any Cueto trade. The Yankees have thus far been unwilling to trade top prospects like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino or Greg Bird.
  • The Dodgers did have talks with the Reds about Cueto, GM Farhan Zaidi tells CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter links). Zaidi thinks the Dodgers will be able to consummate some other trade before Friday’s deadline, presumably one involving starting pitching. Within the Dodgers’ clubhouse, Heyman writes, some players were disappointed that the team didn’t get Cueto, and would like the team to pursue David Price now that Cueto is off the market.

Reactions To Johnny Cueto Trade

After months of speculation, the Reds finally parted ways with pitcher Johnny Cueto.  On Sunday, the Reds and Royals finalized a deal that sends Cueto to KC for pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.  In this deal, the Reds landed two lefties who could blossom into mid-rotation starters and a third lefty who can be placed in the back of their rotation right away, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America writes.  Here’s a look at some of the reactions to the Cueto deal..

  • It’s unlikely that the Reds will reacquire Cueto in free agency this winter, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.  Rosecrans wouldn’t be surprised to see the Reds make a run at Mike Leake – another rumored trade candidate – this winter, but he doesn’t expect that reunion to happen either.
  • Cueto told reporters “It’s a good trade. But I am sad,” Nick Groke of The Denver Post tweets.
  • If Cueto gets the Royals where they want to go in 2015, it won’t matter whether he stays or leaves, Richard Justice of MLB.com writes.  GM Dayton Moore definitely weakened his farm system, but Cueto gives them a chance to win big this year.
  • One AL scout told Jack Magruder of The Sports Xchange (on Twitter) that Reed is the sleeper in the deal.  That scout sees Reed’s future as a reliever and also feels that Finnegan best fits in a bullpen.
  • Finnegan and Lamb will head to Triple-A, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.  Finnegan will be used as a starter.
  • The Reds did well in the deal considering that Cueto is a rental, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets.  Finnegan and Lamb, he says, both need more time to develop but they both have upside.
  • The Reds got a great return, but this was a deal the Royals had to make, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Here’s a sneak peek at what Cueto might look like in his new Royals jersey, from our official Instagram page.  For the latest from MLBTR on Instagram, follow us today – @traderumorsMLB.


NL Rumors: Bruce, Mets, Cueto, Padres

The Reds already made one big move today, could another be around the corner?  The Mets are heavily scouting outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (on Twitter).  Recently, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com heard that the Reds are giving the impression that they are looking to “save money” wherever possible, and that could be an indication that Bruce is very much available.

Here’s more from the National League..

  • The Blue Jays‘ talks with the Reds concerning Johnny Cueto never gained traction, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (on Twitter).  Davidi hears that the Reds were asking for a package headlined by Marcus Stroman.  Cueto, of course, went from the Reds to the Royals on Sunday afternoon.
  • “Industry perception” is that there is some pressure on the Padres to move out future payroll as the deadline approaches, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.  On Sunday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Tyson Ross was drawing the most interest of any of the Padres’ starting pitchers.  Of course, when it comes to finances, the Padres would surely prefer to move the contract of James Shields.
  • The Marlins should get a better indication what they can get for Mat Latos after learning the details of the Johnny Cueto deal, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets.

Royals Acquire Johnny Cueto From Reds

The Reds announced that Johnny Cueto has been traded to the Royals for left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.  The Reds are also sending cash considerations to KC, according to the Royals’ press release.

Cueto, 29, is months from his first shot at free agency, and the fourth-place Reds were been rumored to be shopping him for a while now. Along with the Royals, the Dodgers and Blue Jays were among teams that have been connected to Cueto. However, KC has come out on top.

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Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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Cueto impressed in his final start as a member of the Reds when he threw eight shutout innings at Coors Field on Saturday night.  Just minutes prior to the game, the right-hander wasn’t sure if he’d even be getting the start.  The possibility of a KC trade apparently was so close last night that pitcher Michael Lorenzen had been warming up before the game, prepared to take Cueto’s place.  The deal fell through, for a time, but the two teams reconnected Sunday morning to complete a swap.

Cueto has been a rumored trade candidate for some time now but the Reds were apparently reluctant to move any of their key pieces before this year’s All-Star Game, which was played in Cincinnati.  Now that the All-Star festivities are in the rear view mirror and the Reds are at 43-52, there was little reason for them to hang on to the ace.  Cueto is earning a relatively modest $10MM salary in 2015, of which less than $4.3MM remains.

Through 19 starts this season, Cueto has posted a 2.62 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.  For his career, Cueto has posted a 3.21 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 across eight seasons with the Reds.  Cueto didn’t get to pitch in front of his fans in this year’s All-Star game but he did earn an All-Star nod in 2014, his best complete season to date.

Finnegan, a left-hander, was rated as the No. 55 prospect in the nation by Baseball America heading into the 2015 season.  In seven starts and four relief appearances this season between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Finnegan has posted a 5.00 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 6.3 BB/9.  Those numbers aren’t impressive, but they also came in a limited sample size of 27 innings.  At the big league level this year, Finnegan owns a 2.96 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 14 relief appearances.

Rated as the No. 18 prospect in the country by Baseball America prior to 2011, the 25-year-old Lamb has ascended the ranks of KC’s farm system but has yet to make his big league debut.  Tommy John surgery in 2011 kept him from pitching for the better part of two seasons and slowed his development.  So far this season, however, he’s looking sharp in Triple-A Omaha, pitching to a 2.67 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 17 starts. In years past, BA has praised Lamb for his control and changeup.

Reed, a left-handed reliever, has split his time between Advanced-A ball and Double-A this year.  Across 15 starts and three relief appearances, the 2013 second-round pick has pitched to a 2.53 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.

The agreement was first reported byKen Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Details added by Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter), Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter), Mark Sheldon of MLB.com (on Twitter), and John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).


Royals Nearly Acquired Cueto; Deal Fell Through

SUNDAY, 10:38am: The Royals remain “hopeful” they can revive the Cueto deal with the Reds, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

8:47am: The two sides are still discussing a deal that would send Cueto to Kansas City, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets.

SATURDAY, 11:46pm: The Royals were close to acquiring Reds ace Johnny Cueto tonight, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX SportsThe reporters hear that one of the players the Reds would have acquired “did not check out medically,” causing the deal to fall through.

Tonight at Coors Field, Cueto tossed eight scoreless innings in what might have been his final start in a Reds uniform.  The deal with the Royals was apparently close enough that Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen had been warming up before the game, prepared to take Cueto’s place.  Cueto was not happy, later telling reporters, “I don’t want to use a bad word in this location, but it was really bad how I found out what happen.”  Mark Sheldon and Dargan Southard of MLB.com quoted catcher Brayan Pena describing Cueto, “I’m telling you, today he was on a mission.  I saw something in his eyes that I never saw before.”

Cueto, 29, now sports a 2.62 ERA in 130 2/3 innings this year.  He’s months from his first shot at free agency, and the fourth-place Reds seem likely to trade him by Friday’s deadline.  Along with the Royals, the Dodgers and Blue Jays are among the teams that have been linked to Cueto.  The first domino in the starting pitching market dropped Thursday when the Astros acquired Scott Kazmir.


Blue Jays, Brewers Still Discussing Mike Fiers

The Blue Jays and Brewers are still discussing Mike Fiers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.  Rosenthal reported last week that the two sides were talking about a swap involving the right-hander, though he added that the Brewers weren’t terribly interested in moving him.

Rosenthal adds that the Blue Jays still have numerous irons in the fire as the deadline approaches.  Toronto continues to show interest in frontline starters like Jeff Samardzija, and Johnny Cueto and also David Price, if he becomes available.

Fiers isn’t arbitration eligible until after the 2016 season and he’s earning just $513K in 2015.  Thanks to making his big league debut later on in his career, the 30-year-old can be controlled through 2019 via the arb process. That team control is one of the reasons that he’s probably appealing to the Blue Jays, but it probably also makes the Brewers reluctant to move him.

Upon first glance, Fiers would seem to be an imperfect fit for Toronto’s Rogers Centre. He’s a right-hander that averages just 89 mph on his fastball and is considered an extreme fly-ball pitcher. However, Fiers’ former teammate, Marco Estrada, has been outstanding for the Blue Jays in 2015.

According to Rosenthal’s report from last week, the Brewers would want multiple pieces as a return in any trade of Fiers. He’s an atypical trade candidate due to the four remaining seasons of control he brings, but the more traditional trade pieces in Milwaukee’s rotation don’t currently hold much appeal. Kyle Lohse, a free agent at season’s end, has struggled greatly in 2015. So, too, has the now-injured Matt Garza, who comes with two more years of a $12.5MM salary.


AL East Notes: Orioles, Samardzija, Soria, Carrasco, Latos

Despite very public statements indicating that the team is all in on 2015, the Orioles are now giving “serious consideration” to selling, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes (Twitter links), Baltimore owner Peter Angelos has previously been disinclined to authorize such a move, but that could change (at least in theory) with several of the team’s better players set to reach free agency. Of course, executive vice president Dan Duquette said on Wednesday that his club will be a buyer. But a sweep at the hands of the division-leading Yankees has certainly impacted the team’s chances of making a run at the AL East.

Here’s more from the division:

  • The Blue Jays remain in “active discussions” with the White Sox about right-hander Jeff Samardzija, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The Jays have been said to have “strong” interest in adding Samardzija, a potential free agent at the end of the season. Upgrading the pitching staff is the Blue Jays’ top priority in the week leading up to the trade deadline, and Samardzija, whose eight-inning gem on Thursday dropped his ERA to 3.91, would certainly do that. Over his past eight outings, Samardzija has a 2.55 ERA, and he’s lasted at least seven innings in each of those contests. As Peter Gammons pointed out earlier today on Twitter, for a team with bullpen woes in addition to rotation troubles, adding a pitcher that is capable of effectively working deep into games should carry even greater appeal.
  • If the Tigers do end up selling, the Blue Jays will have interest in closer Joakim Soria, tweets Anthony Fenech of the Detroit News. Soria would be a pure rental, as he’s a free agent at the end of the year. He’s earning $7MM and has posted an even 3.00 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his 39 innings this season, though he’s also had an unusually difficult time with home runs, which could make pitching at the Rogers Centre a challenge.
  • The Blue Jays‘ pursuit of Scott Kazmir illustrates that it’s “becoming more clear” that the team is open to a rental acquisition, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi notes that the Kazmir talks were never going to get off the ground based on the asking price — “think Jeff Hoffman or Daniel Norris,” says Davidi — especially considering Kazmir’s injury scares. Health concerns are another reason to wonder if the Blue Jays will seriously pursue Johnny Cueto or not, he adds. While the Blue Jays may be warming to the idea of a rental arm, they can’t afford to have their acquisition miss any time, and Cueto’s had a pair of minor elbow issues in 2015.
  • While the Blue Jays made a “big push” to land Carlos Carrasco from the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), the trade simply “didn’t get done.” Cleveland isn’t necessarily motivated to trade a starter, though they’re also not entirely ruling out the possibility.
  • The Yankees have shown at least some interest in Marlins righty Mat Latos, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports on Twitter. They join a growing list of clubs that have shown some inclination to take a chance on Latos’s resurgence and past success. New York has given public indication that it is not lining up any major moves, but it would be surprising if it does not at least make a few acquisitions at areas of need, and rotation depth could certainly make sense.

Red Sox Notes: Buchholz, Cherington, Rotation

A second opinion for Clay Buchholz from Dr. James Andrews confirmed that the right-hander does not need surgery, but he’ll received a platelet-rich plasma injection and won’t throw for five to six weeks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. As Mastrodonato points out, the Red Sox have a $13MM club option on Buchholz, so avoiding a serious injury is key for the right-hander. Buchholz hopes the option will be exercised — “I’ve definitely been here my whole career,” he said. “I don’t really want to go anywhere.” — and barring a significant injury, that seems like a foregone conclusion, Mastrodonato writes. Buchholz’s injury is a flexor strain, and the right-hander pointed to Royals lefty Jason Vargas as a reason to exercise caution: “I think it’s the exact same thing that [Royals starter Jason Vargas] got hurt the other day. That’s what he went on the DL for was flexor. Seeing that, that’s definitely not what I want to do. I’m going to take the time I need to take off for it to be better.” Vargas, of course, did originally hit the DL with a flexor strain, and he returned quickly, only he end up re-injuring his arm and requiring Tommy John surgery.

More Red Sox notes…

  • The team’s second-half woes have halted its pursuit of short-term starting pitching acquisitions, sources tell WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The Sox had entertained the thought of a run at Johnny Cueto to give themselves an increased chance to sign him and to make a push in 2015, but that thinking has been tabled. Boston wasn’t involved in talks for Scott Kazmir, Bradford hears, although they had previously had some interest in him.
  • In a second piece, Bradford urges Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to send a message to a team that looks to have lost direction by committing to a big-name starting pitcher to front the rotation — even if it means a painful parting of ways with top prospects. The Red Sox in recent years have focused too much on what might be (prospect value) as opposed to what presently is, Bradford opines, and that philosophy has led the team to its current predicament.
  • Cherington met with the Boston media recently, and ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes has a number of highlights from his conversation, including Cherington’s thoughts on the team’s lack of front-line pitching and the possibility of moving Hanley Ramirez out of left field and to a new position. Cherington feels that Ramirez’s defense on the road is beginning to stabilize, though he admits that Ramirez faces challenges playing left field in Boston with the Green Monster. As far as the team’s rotation goes, the quest to add front-line pitching doesn’t end July 31, Cherington says, and the team will explore multiple avenues to try to acquire such an arm. He notes that the front office believes some pitchers currently in the organization could achieve the desired lofty heights. (That quote, in particular, is one that prompted the above-linked column from Bradford.)
  • Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that despite all of the questions surrounding Rusney Castillo, Pablo Sandoval, Ramirez and the team’s pitching staff, the biggest question facing the Sox is whether or not Cherington is the right man to lead Boston to a sustainable run of success. Lauber praises Cherington for being accountable and placing the organization’s struggles on his own shoulders, but he also notes that such accountability is easier when owner John Henry recently gave his GM a large vote of confidence.
  • Shane Victorino hopes to remain with the Red Sox through the end of his current contract, he tells Bradford. As Bradford notes, even if the Red Sox do sell pieces, Victorino could very well remain in Boston, as he’s been injured for much of the past two seasons and has more than $5MM remaining on his 2015 salary.

Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.

There are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
  • Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
  • Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
  • The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.