10:00pm: The Diamondbacks’ offer was for six years and $120MM, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports. The $20MM average annual value of the rejected offer already surpasses the $15MM-$18MM range cited by Rosenthal.
6:48pm: D’Backs GM Dave Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he also visited Cueto in the Dominican Republic in addition to meeting with Dixon, and that Cueto already turned down one contract offer from the club. Stewart said the D’Backs are still interested in Cueto and understood why the initial offer was rejected. “When you’ve still got the two big guys who haven’t done anything yet, [David] Price and [Zack] Greinke, you kind of want to wait,” Stewart said. “Depending on how [Dixon] sees his client, and he probably sees his client above [Jordan] Zimmermann, it puts you in a situation where you want to wait and see what happens.”
Though Stewart didn’t specifically comment on Rosenthal’s reported gap in Cueto’s asking price and the Diamondbacks’ comfort zone, he did imply that his team may have to spend more in order to land the righty.
“I guess ultimately that decision is going to be made by ownership, if we can go there,” Stewart said. “Having a conversation with him gave us an idea of what’s going to happen and what he’s thinking. We’re going to have to wait and see how this thing plays out.”
1:18pm: The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent last week, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The expectation, however, is that Cueto’s price will exceed with Arizona is comfortable with paying. The D’Backs want to spend roughly $15MM-$18MM on a free agent starter, while Cueto figures to get more than $20MM per year (link).
Earlier this month, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported that the D’Backs were discussing Cueto internally, so it seems that they have at least taken the next step by reaching out to agent Bryce Dixon. Pitching names like Shelby Miller, Yovani Gallardo and John Lackey have been linked to Arizona via trade and free agency, but those arms would come with a much more modest price tag than Cueto. Names like Jeff Samardzija and Kenta Maeda represent some of the pricier options that have been mentioned as possible targets for Arizona.
There have been whispers about Cueto’s injured elbow affecting his market, but in a recent interview, Dixon made the case that if Cueto had been hurt, he wouldn’t have been able to deliver such strong results for the Royals in two of his postseason outings. Overall, though, Cueto did not give the Royals exactly what they expected when they acquired him over the summer. In 13 regular starts, Cueto posted a 4.76 ERA. He also pitched poorly in two of his four postseason outings.
Recently, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked Cueto as the offseason’s No. 8 free agent and pegged him for a five-year, $115MM deal.