Sources to Arizona Diamondbacks reporter Steve Gilbert said that the team offered Kansas City Royals pitcher Johnny Cueto a six-year, $120 million contract that the right-hander rejected.
Arizona offering $20 million per season exceeds the expected amount many people, including FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, thought general manager Dave Stewart wanted to spend on a starting pitcher. But whether it is a sign the D-backs would indeed spend more or if the offer to Cueto was an exception remains to be seen.
Rosenthal reported that the Diamondbacks met with Cueto’s agent last week.
The 29-year-old Cueto was 11-13 last season with a 3.44 ERA. He has a career 3.30 ERA. Cueto spent his first seven seasons with the Cincinnati Reds before being traded to the Royals in July.
Cueto was an integral part of the Royals’ first World Series win in 30 years. He started four games in the 2015 postseason, including a sterling effort in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets. Cueto pitched a complete game in which he allowed just two hits and one earned run while striking out four as the Royals posted a 7-1 win. They’d go on to win the series in five games.
It’s no secret that the D-backs are looking for starting pitching. According to Rotoworld, the D-backs have already been linked to Jeff Samardzija, Kenta Maeda, Mike Leake, John Lackey, and Yovani Gallardo. There’s also the Shelby Miller trade rumors from earlier this month.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported last week that the D-backs had “internal discussions” about Cueto.
Starting pitching was one of the weak points in the roster for the D-backs last season. Last season, Arizona ranked 25th in quality starts.
The D-backs only had one starter last season start in at least 20 games and have an ERA below four. That was 24-year-old Robbie Ray, who alongside 26-year-old Patrick Corbin, and 23-year-old Archie Bradley, are the future of the D-backs rotation.
There’s also marquee prospects left in the D-backs system to help out. Aaron Blair (AAA) and Braden Shipley (AA) are both expected to be in the majors by the end of next season.
The D-backs still need their big-time starter though and they will look for him in free agency and the trade market.
As Rosenthal noted, the problems with getting that big name is the amount of money they will cost. Jordan Zimmermann, another marquee pitching name, reportedly signed with the Detroit Tigers for $110 million over five years. That’s out of the price range that Rosenthal mentioned.
With All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock in their primes, the expectation is the D-backs will look to get that name sooner rather than later.
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