The Cincinnati Reds are still showing interest in bringing back right-handed starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted this afternoon that the San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins, and the Reds were interested parties in Cueto’s services. Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported the Reds initial interest three weeks ago.
One of these teams stands out more than the others. The San Diego Padres are putting for as much effort as seemingly possible to try and win as many games as possible. Despite being a “small market team” they are committing to big time players and spending plenty of money to try and win, which they hope keeps fans coming to the ballpark and spending money and growing their brand and interest, which in turn keeps the money flowing for future spending.
On the other side of that coin you have the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins, who aren’t exactly putting forth the best effort – at least on paper – to try and acquire the kinds of players who could lead to plenty of winning in 2023. That leaves the Padres with a pretty big selling point to Johnny Cueto.
Cincinnati and Miami could try to entice Johnny Cueto with a few things, though. More money. More years. While it’s unlikely that Cueto, who will turn 37-years-old next month, is going to be asking for and getting a 4-year contract, if San Diego is only offering a one year deal, perhaps the other teams can offer a two year deal at similar money per year. That’s going to lead to more guaranteed money, and probably more wiggle room if there is some underperformance along the way.
Cueto is exactly the kind of pitcher that a team like Cincinnati could use. He’s coming off of a very good season with the Chicago White Sox that saw him pitch in 25 games with 158.1 innings and a 3.35 ERA. The 2023 season will be Cueto’s 16th and he knows the ins-and-outs of pitching better than most guys around the league. With a young starting pitching staff that as of right now only has three second-year pitchers locked into it, he could be the veteran of the staff that not only helps stabilize it with what he does on the mound every 5th day, but also the veteran that can help the young guys learn the little things that can help them take the next step in their career.
From a non-on-the-field perspective, signing Johnny Cueto would also probably help out with some of the public relations stuff with the fans. You can probably imagine just how tough it is to sell tickets right now after the team is coming off of a 100 loss season and has done almost nothing to try and improve the team as they head into spring training aside from “wait for the prospects to show up”. Bringing in Cueto, who is not only a quality big leaguer coming off of a good season, but also a fan favorite, probably does sell a few tickets during the early part of the season.