Friday, June 30, 2017

The Highly Unlikely Trade Acquisition of Johnny Cueto


edit: Written before the Dustin Fowler knee injury.

Yeah, I am way out in left field. Yeah, this is unlikely. Yeah, I may be a little off my rocker. So what? The New York Yankees need starting pitching help and will presumably be in the market for some at the July 31st trade deadline so why not ignore a big name and go after someone that actually makes sense? Why not make the phone call to the San Francisco Giants and why not make a trade offer for right-handed starter Johnny Cueto? 

Johnny Cueto has four years and $84 million left on his contract after the 2017 season but many people are forgetting that Cueto has an opt-out clause that can allow him to test the free agent market after the 2017 season. This is a huge risk but could be a huge reward for the Yankees if they acquire him because if Cueto does opt-out, and according to Jon Heyman at FanRag Sports he will, the Yankees cannot offer him a qualifying offer and could potentially lose him for “nothing.” On the other hand if he sticks around and decides not to opt-out the Yankees would have a $21 million pitcher on the books when the team is trying to get under the luxury tax threshold after the 2018 season.  

Of course you can play Devil’s advocate though and remember that Masahiro Tanaka also has a similar opt-out clause written into his contract so if Cueto did opt to remain with the Yankees at least the Yankees would have a reliable arm in the rotation. We could debate this and debate what could or is going to happen all day but you have to get the trade done first. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, could the Yankees get the trade done? Absolutely. They have the prospects to get ANY trade done, but should they? 

Again, more questions than answers. Cueto has postseason and World Series experience after leading the Kansas City Royals to the World Series in 2015 and the San Francisco Giants to the postseason in 2016 but his 2017 campaign leaves much to be desired. Cueto currently sports a 4.20 ERA pitching his home games in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark and has allowed 13 home runs away from AT&T Park in 2017. Imagine that inside Yankee Stadium on a Saturday afternoon with the wind blowing out. Cueto is a workhorse though and has a career 3.25 ERA so maybe, and I know everyone says this about every potential trade rumor, a change of scenery and a change of pitching coaches could turn Cueto back into what he once was. 


The Yankees have a surplus of outfield prospects and the Giants are seemingly always needing an outfielder so maybe a trade around Dustin Fowler could get the job done. I’m not sure what else the Giants need but the Yankees have a ton to choose from so these two teams could make it work. Whatever you do just don’t include any of Chance Adams, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres and the other “blue-chip” Yankees prospects and this is a potential huge win for the pitching-hungry Yankees in 2017. 

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