The next big domino fell as the San Francisco Giants signed Johnny Cueto to a six-year deal. Despite a down second half, he’ll be the ace of the rotation in 2016.
The National League West has been a busy division throughout the offseason. The San Francisco Giants made the most recent move by signing the biggest free agent left on the market. The team announced Monday afternoon that they signed Johnny Cueto to a six-year deal. This makes the division a much tighter race heading into the 2016 season. Cueto will likely be the ace of a good rotation, trying to compete for another World Series title.
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Cueto spent seven and a half years with the Cincinnati Reds, finishing with a 92-63 record, 3.21 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 7.5 K/9. He was then traded to the Kansas City Royals at the 2015 trade deadline. In 13 starts, he had a 4-7 record with a 4.76 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 6.2 K/9. It wasn’t the best half-season Cueto’s ever had, but he did end up with a World Series ring.
The Giants’ best pitcher last season was obviously Madison Bumgarner, who had an 18-9 record with a 2.93 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 9.6 K/9. The rest of the rotation was average at best. The next-best ERA was Jake Peavy‘s 3.58 in 19 starts, which is a great reason to go after and sign Cueto.
Johnny Cueto should be very happy he back in the National League. He has a 3.58 ERA in Interleague play, including a 10.32 ERA in two starts against the Baltimore Orioles. While there are some NL teams that Cueto has struggled against, including the Miami Marlins, he’s had better success in the NL.
AT&T Park in San Francisco was the most pitcher-friendly park in 2015. It was first in runs scored, first in home runs and T-3 in hits allowed. In comparison, Kauffman Stadium was 20th, sixth and 20th, respectively. That does reflect the great hitting team of the Kansas City Royals, but it also takes into account the opposing hitters.
With this signing, the NL West just got more competitive. The Los Angeles Dodgers still have Clayton Kershaw and signed Hisashi Iwakuma. The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke and traded for Shelby Miller. And now this news, pairing Johnny Cueto with Bumgarner. Cueto’s value certainly rises with the Giants compared to what it would have been if he signed with the Diamondbacks.
Johnny Cueto was the ninth pitcher drafted in ESPN leagues last season. This year, with the move to San Francisco, I still have Cueto as a top-10 pitcher. It’s a better ballpark and he’s had better success in the National League. I don’t think his value changes much if he’s the No. 1 or 2 pitcher for the Giants. Barring injury, he’s guaranteed 30 starts and sub-3.00 ERA. He isn’t a big strikeout guy, but will limit the baserunners with ground balls.
Projections: 14-9, 2.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 168 strikeouts.
Draft: Round 4