The Cincinnati Reds are still showing interest in bringing back right-handed starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted this afternoon that the San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins, and the Reds were interested parties in Cueto’s services. Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported the Reds initial interest three weeks ago.

One of these teams stands out more than the others. The San Diego Padres are putting for as much effort as seemingly possible to try and win as many games as possible. Despite being a “small market team” they are committing to big time players and spending plenty of money to try and win, which they hope keeps fans coming to the ballpark and spending money and growing their brand and interest, which in turn keeps the money flowing for future spending.

On the other side of that coin you have the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins, who aren’t exactly putting forth the best effort – at least on paper – to try and acquire the kinds of players who could lead to plenty of winning in 2023. That leaves the Padres with a pretty big selling point to Johnny Cueto.

Cincinnati and Miami could try to entice Johnny Cueto with a few things, though. More money. More years. While it’s unlikely that Cueto, who will turn 37-years-old next month, is going to be asking for and getting a 4-year contract, if San Diego is only offering a one year deal, perhaps the other teams can offer a two year deal at similar money per year. That’s going to lead to more guaranteed money, and probably more wiggle room if there is some underperformance along the way.

Cueto is exactly the kind of pitcher that a team like Cincinnati could use. He’s coming off of a very good season with the Chicago White Sox that saw him pitch in 25 games with 158.1 innings and a 3.35 ERA. The 2023 season will be Cueto’s 16th and he knows the ins-and-outs of pitching better than most guys around the league. With a young starting pitching staff that as of right now only has three second-year pitchers locked into it, he could be the veteran of the staff that not only helps stabilize it with what he does on the mound every 5th day, but also the veteran that can help the young guys learn the little things that can help them take the next step in their career.

From a non-on-the-field perspective, signing Johnny Cueto would also probably help out with some of the public relations stuff with the fans. You can probably imagine just how tough it is to sell tickets right now after the team is coming off of a 100 loss season and has done almost nothing to try and improve the team as they head into spring training aside from “wait for the prospects to show up”. Bringing in Cueto, who is not only a quality big leaguer coming off of a good season, but also a fan favorite, probably does sell a few tickets during the early part of the season.

20 Responses

  1. Bdh

    I’d love this move but think we’ll get outbid. It at least shows the reds are interested in adding a veteran starter to the staff. I think they’ll end up adding someone like Chase Anderson back but man do I hope they get this done with Cueto.

    A staff of

    Lodolo
    Greene
    Cueto
    Ashcraft
    Cessa

    Doesn’t seem bad at all

    Dunn
    Williamson
    Stoudt
    Overton
    Lively

    In AAA

    • MBS

      I feel like if Dunn is healthy, he’s ahead of Cessa in the rotation. Cessa could pitch in the pen, and be stretched out in this scenario if he’s needed as a starter. I could also see Overton in the pen.

      Lodolo, Greene, Cueto , Ashcraft, Dunn

      Diaz, SanMartin, Cessa, Farmer, Cruz, and Overton + the IL crew (Antone, Sims, Santillan)

    • Earmbrister

      Bdh, I agree that Cueto would be a welcome addition, but that we’ll probably be outbid on him. I’m also in MBS’s camp on Dunn being next man in the rotation order. Adding an inexpensive veteran starting pitcher would be nice.

      • Doc

        Cueto has been in MLB 16 years. Maybe money isn’t the only factor motivating him at this stage of his career.

    • Kevin Fox

      Come on reds and sign Johnny cueto today please

  2. tim

    i would choose overton over cessa, if overton has a good spring. then cessa back in the bullpen.

  3. Mark Moore

    Interesting thoughts. Something to watch at least.

  4. LDS

    maybe, but in all honesty, I don’t see it happening.

  5. Old-school

    Miley goes 4.5 mil 1 year brewers

    Enquirer reports reds $80 mil budget is pretty fixed

    Reds need a SP

    • Mark Moore

      Looks like a “show me” or “start in the pen and see what happens” kind of contract (MLBTR commenters saying the latter). He threw all of 37 innings in 2022 from what I just read.

  6. Melvin

    “Despite being a “small market team” they are committing to big time players and spending plenty of money to try and win, which they hope keeps fans coming to the ballpark and spending money and growing their brand and interest, which in turn keeps the money flowing for future spending”.

    What a CRAZY way of thinking. Makes way too much sense. 🙂

    • Mark Moore

      Granted they may be spending a boatload more than what they “should” but at least they are attempting to put a high-class product on the field. Can’t really fault them for that.

      • Colorado Red

        Not sure I agree with you
        Good starting 3 (maybe a 4th).
        Outfield is not good at all.
        Votto is over the hill.
        Ben has an outstanding closer, but else if iffy.
        Still think they lose 100+ games this year.

      • Mark Moore

        Colorado Red,

        My comment was about the Friars, not the Reds. They put a product on the field and butts in the seats.

      • TR

        If the Padres ownership group has the money and is willing to spend it, good for them. I have a hard time visualizing San Diego as a small market.

      • Doug Gray

        When people talk about “big/small market” they are always referencing the size of the television market. San Diego’s television market is the 28th largest in America.

    • Jim Walker

      I think the official TV market size of San Diego is somewhat misleading in a discussion such as we are having here. The city of San Diego itself is the 2nd largest city in California at 1.8M+. San Diego county comes in at 3.3M (this includes the city population). Adjoining Riverside county is at 2.5m.Orange (3.2m) county also adjoins San Diego County but is probably more aligned to the LA sprawl.

      However the official TV markets are drawn up, all these areas are potential areas for the Padres to draw customers from and to have folks watching their games via TV or streaming.

  7. redfanorbust

    I still don’t see the Reds signing him given their self inflicted budget. Plus the rebuild strategy of letting young guys play and nothing could be more telling than DFAing Moustakas. I don’t know what he is asking for but he has not had a winning season since 2016 with the Giants. 2017-2022 he went 29-27. For five of those years with a good Giants team in a pitcher friendly ballpark. Now six years older and pitching in an extremely hitter friendly ballpark on a projected poor offense behind him I am not sure the periphery reasons for spending that kind of money on him are wise.

  8. Jim walker

    Sounds like Cueto is off the board to Marlins for only $8.5m guaranteed for 1 year plus an option buyout on 2024.