The Kansas City Royals have acquired starting pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for three minor league pitchers. Cueto is 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA and 120 strikeouts for the Reds this season.
The Royals have the best record in the American League but their rotation is still very weak. Cueto is better than anyone they currently have in the rotation. He’s a huge upgrade for the team regardless of who he’ll be replacing. Cueto has been one of the best pitchers in the National League for a while now. This is his fifth consecutive season with an ERA in the 2’s. He was insanely good last season; winning twenty games, leading the league in strikeouts, and finishing second in the NL Cy Young voting behind Clayton Kershaw. This is a huge move for the Royals and their World Series chances.
In order to get a player like Cueto you would have to give up quite a bit. So who did the Reds get? The Red received from the Royals three left handed pitchers.
The centerpiece of the trade is Brandon Finnegan. He was the Royals first round pick in 2014. You might remember that Finnegan came up to the Royals major league team last September and pitched seven great innings. He also made the postseason roster and pitched three big innings in their wild card round win over the A’s. The plan was for Finnegan to start though and he found himself back in the minors to start this season. The plan didn’t work out as hoped for the Royals and Finnegan as he returned to the major league team as a reliever and has pitched in fourteen games. His future should still be as a starter and I think the Reds will be more patient with him. The new team will work out better for Finnegan and I think we’ll see him as a full time starter for Cincinnati next year.
The second pitcher the Reds acquired is Cody Reed, a 2013 second rounder. Reed struggled in his first minor league season but he’s been good so far this year reaching AA.
The last pitcher the Reds received is 24 year old John Lamb. Lamb was one of the prospects that made up maybe the best farm system ever, the 2011 Royals. Lamb was the number 18 prospect entering 2011 but got hurt that summer and he’s been working his way back ever since. He’s not the player he was but he can potentially make the Reds rotation.
This seems to be the perfect mutually beneficial trade. The Reds are out of it and probably weren’t going to re-sign Cueto and the Royals want to win games now and desperately needed a top line starter.