The Royals landed the starter pitcher they think they need to make a late run into October when they acquired right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto and cash considerations from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed.
Cueto will be reunited with former Reds teammate Edinson Volquez.
Did they give up too much? Finnegan was a surprise last year and came up in the postseason as a middle reliever and one day will turn into a good left-handed starter. He got knocked around a bit by San Francisco in the World Series, but the 22 year-old showed some great poise coming into all four playoff series last year.
The numbers for Cueto have been impressive for a woeful team like the Reds and the Royals will get his services for the next 2.5+ months. Following this season, the 29-year old becomes a free agent.
Cueto is only 7-6, but he has a 2.62 ERA in 19 starts for the Reds this season. He ranks eighth in the National League in innings pitched (130.2), ninth in ERA, fourth in opponents’ batting average (.196), fourth in WHIP (0.98) and is tied for 12th in strikeouts (120). He threw eight shutout innings at Coors Field in Cincinnati’s 5-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday.
Since the start of 2011, Cueto’s 2.51 ERA in second-lowest among Major League pitchers, trailing only Clayton Kershaw’s 2.16 mark, while his 3.21 career ERA is sixth-lowest among all active pitchers that have worked at least 1,000 innings. In his last two full seasons as a starter, when he made 33 starts in 2014 and 2012, he won 20 and 19 games respectively. In 2013, he was hurt and made just 11 starts, but still went 5-2. In fact, Cueto’s only losing season was his first as a 22-year old when he went 9-14.
Cueto finished second in the National League Cy Young Award voting last year and was also 12th in voting for the league’s Most Valuable Player. He became the first Reds pitcher to record 20 wins in a season since Danny Jackson in 1988. (Cueto on the trade…through his translator…video, MLB.com)
Finnegan was the Royals 17th overall pick in the 2014 draft and went from pitching at TCU on the college level to pitching in the World Series in the span of less than six months. Over the last two regular seasons, Finnegan is 3-1 in 21 appearances with a 2.59 ERA and has struck out 31 batters in 31.2 career innings.
Lamb was a top prospect in the Royals’ organization until undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011. Lamb is 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA at Triple-A Omaha. Finnegan and Lamb were sent to the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville. Reed was a second-round pick in the 2013 Draft. He was 2-2 with a 3.45 ERA at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Yes, the Royals gave up some promising prospects, but GM Dayton Moore said decisions like this need to be made.
“If you focus on what you’re giving up or giving away, you’ll never make a deal.”