San Francisco Giants Complete Rotation by Signing Johnny Cueto


On Monday, the San Francisco Giants completed their rotation by signing free agent right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto.

The San Francisco Giants entered the offseason with the goal of upgrading a starting rotation that was the team’s key weakness in 2015. The team has certainly accomplished that goal. After adding free agent right-hander Jeff Samardzija earlier in the offseason, the Giants signed another starter to steady their rotation, right-hander Johnny Cueto.

With all the top-tier pitchers gone, Cueto had become the big fish on the market. Even as Zack Greinke, David Price, and Jordan Zimmermann signed deals to head to their new teams, Cueto remained on the market. He turned down a six-year, $120 million offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier in the offseason, and in its place, Cueto took a six-year, $130 million contract from San Francisco.

The big money commitment to Cueto becomes the richest contract the Giants have given a free agent since 2007, when they signed Barry Zito to a seven-year deal worth $126 million. Cueto’s pact includes an opt-out after the second season (2017), and a team option for a seventh year.

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Cueto was a part of the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals for the second half of 2015, and although he didn’t pitch well in his first taste of American League action, he had some fantastic starts in the postseason. In game five of the ALDS, Cueto pitched eight innings of two-run ball while striking out eight, leading the Royals to a series-clinching win over the Houston Astros. In game two of the World Series, Cueto pitched a complete game, allowing just two hits and a run to guide the Royals to another win, and a 2-0 series lead.

Before being dealt at the 2015 trade deadline, Cueto had experienced great success in the National League. In 226 starts with the Cincinnati Reds, Cueto went 92-63, including winning 20 games and finishing runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2014, with a 3.21 ERA and 1.165 WHIP. From the beginning of the 2011 season to his final start as a Red in 2015, Cueto totaled a 2.51 ERA and 1.045 WHIP.

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Cueto, the crafty veteran pitcher who mixes delivery styles as much as he does pitch speeds, does come with some risk. He has had some injury issues, mostly with his oblique and elbow, in recent seasons, although nothing as serious as to force him to miss more than a start. Still, that type of risk is concerning.

The Giants projected starting rotation now shakes out as Madison Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain, which is a much better outlook than when the offseason began. Cueto and his long dreadlocks also join a team full of great hair, combining with Bumgarner, Samardzija, Brandon Crawford, and Angel Pagan.

With their starting rotation now set, the Giants can set their crosshairs on a new left fielder, although it will likely be at a lower price range. While there are top-level outfielders left on the market, like Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, and Justin Upton, there are also options at a lower price. Players like David Murphy, Marlon Byrd, and Alejandro De Aza still remain. The trade market also still provides some intriguing options.

Next: MLB Offseason Hot Stove Tracker

Though the players they signed weren’t necessarily at the top of their list, the Giants upgraded in an area where they desperately needed to upgrade. With a strong lineup and solid defense still at their disposal, the Giants seem posed to make another run at an even year championship.