Johnny Cueto’s last outing probably didn’t have many MLB teams dying to trade for him. The one prior to that (complete game shutout over Nationals) did, however, as the long-rumored-to-be-traded Cincinnati Reds ace could be on his way out of town before long. That’s the latest word in the MLB rumor mill, with the Houston Astros, Toronto Bluejays and Kansas City Royals all reportedly taking “keen interest” on the Reds top ace.
Those three teams certainly aren’t the only teams gunning for one of MLB’s top aces, but they’ve reportedly been the “most aggressive” and all absolutely need the help on the mound. The big question, of course, is which of the three is the best bet to land Cueto. And if not one of those three, where does Cueto go before the July 31st trade deadline.
Astros, Bluejays and Royals
The nice thing about these three teams is they have loads of offense. Odds are the Reds are looking for young talent and probably in the form of arms to potentially help replace the stable Cueto. But if Cincy wants some pop to add to their offense for 2015 or down the road, all three of these teams have some nice hitting talent they could potentially part with. The Royals may be less inclined to do that with Alex Gordon (groin) on the mend, but that’s one route all three of these teams could take.
Who needs Cueto the most, though? That’s another key take, as it could lead us to the team that would give up the better package to land the star ace. On the surface, that might end up being Toronto. Toronto has the league’s most powerful and productive offense by the numbers, but really lacks even one true ace to put on the mound. Houston has a couple and the Royals have a few solid names to hang their hat on. The Bluejays are really struggling in the pitching department and when it’s all said and done, at least of these three teams, they might be the front-runner.
Dodgers, Yankees and Others
Of course, there could be a few teams a little higher on the food chain when it comes to assets, money and/or just willing to give up whatever it takes. L.A. is the most interesting, as they’ve been tied to Cueto and it’s not like they’re hurting for pitching talent necessarily. Then again, after Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke, it’s not like they have much pitching to get overly excited about. Mike Bolsinger and Brett Anderson are serviceable, but landing Cueto could push them further down the rotation and give Los Angeles a three-strack of elite pitchers.
New York factors in because they’re the Yankees and they almost never bow out of any high profile trade race. They have a strong offense and are in the driver’s seat for first place in the AL East, but they could use an extra arm to push their defense over the top. C.C. Sabathia has regressed mightily, but Michael Pineda has rebounded from a couple rough spots to be one of the better pitchers in baseball over the past month. Adding Cueto to the mix would strengthen their defensive efforts greatly.
The funny thing about this is the Reds contest that they aren’t shopping Cueto. That doesn’t mean they’re not listening to offers, though. With Cincinnati not in playoff contention and their 29-year old ace bringing in major offers, they’ll eventually change their tune.