Johnny Cueto: 3 Best Fantasy Free Agent Landing Spots


The free agent market value on Johnny Cueto will be one of the more interesting things to watch over the winter. Owners will try to sift through late last season and playoff struggles, to see what version of Cueto they could receive.

From 2011 into midway of 2015, you could argue that there was not a better pitcher in the NL. Cueto seemed to be able time out to throw seven innings with ease, while not giving up any damage and usually striking out nearly 10 batters a game. He just seemed to never get hit hard and for a guy that pitched his home games at Great American Ballpark that is truly remarkable.

During this five year run he never had an ERA over 2.82, struck out about 170 a year and only walked over 50 batters once. The point being, he did not bail guys out with walks nor work himself into trouble.

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In 2015 he was finally dealt from the Reds to Kansas City and really failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him. He struggled in the postseason as well, even though there were some vintage Cueto games mixed in as well, so it remains to be seen what type of free agent deal he will get.

These are three of the best fantasy potential landing spots.

San Francisco Giants

While I would deem David Price and Zack Greinke as the heads of the 2016 pitching class, Cueto does rank right behind them but just a tier lower. Price and Greinke will probably fetch deals close to the $200 million mark, so the Giants could deem that too much and opt to go after Cueto instead as he would fill a need and give Madison Bumgarner an ace counterpart.

Cueto is actually younger than both Price and Greinke too, so the Giants could see it as a better investment as a whole. Cueto has the ability to strike guys out, 8.2 K/9 last season, even though he lacks that true big time K upside. He also has the propensity to give up more fly balls compared to any other batted balls, so a move to AT & T Park would do wonders in cementing his value. From a fantasy perspective this is probably the most valuable place for him to land this offseason, so keep watch.

Los Angeles Dodgers

On one hand I do not foresee the Dodgers being outbid by anyone for Greinke, but as we have seen every year all it takes is for one team with a blank check to leave the whole market in a flux. If the Dodgers lose Greinke, Cueto steps is a cheaper and lesser used option which would give them a right handed starter to pair with Clayton Kershaw as they had in 2015.

Just as in the case with AT & T Park, Dodgers Stadium is definitely more pitcher friendly, so his fly ball rates would serve well here. The Dodgers have the means to actually brin in both Greinke and Cueto if they wanted to, so don’t be surprised if Cueto is LA bound regardless. His value should mirror that to what he did with the Reds if he finds himself in Dodger blue in 2016.

Washington Nationals

Something just makes me think that the Nationals and Mike Rizzo will come out of nowhere again to make a big splash in the offseason. The Nats are going to lose Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmerman via free agency, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez could walk after the 2016, so the Nats rotation could be in trouble.

They do have a bevy of young and upcoming arms, but the Nats aren’t going to rely on the young guns and Scherzer to anchor what they hope is finally a World Series run. Cueto would fit the bill to a tee as he would offer them future production and fill the void that Zimmerman is leaving immediately. Fittingly enough, the Nats just hired Cueto’s old coach, Dusty Baker, as well so he could serve as the main recruiter for bringing Cueto to the nation’s capital.