In a much anticipated move, the Cincinnati Reds have traded Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
Cueto (7-6, 2.62 ERA, 120 Ks) tossed eight innings of four hit, no run baseball the night before he became the first big name to be moved before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. In exchange the Royals will send three left handed pitchers including TCU standout Brandon Finnegan.
He’s now the second member of the Royals rotation that has started an Opening Day for the Reds, joining Edinson Volquez who took the mound for the Reds in 2011. Cueto has been a fixture in the Reds rotation since 2008 as he amassed 92 wins with over 1,100 strikeouts and a lifetime 3.21 ERA. His arrival is much needed after the departure of staff ace James Shields to free agency before spring training left Kansas City with one of the shakiest starting rotations.
The Royals have the lowest bullpen ERA (2.13) in all of baseball, ahead of NL Central foes St. Louis (2.34) and Pittsburgh (2.63), but rank 22nd in starter ERA (4.30). The starting rotation currently averages less than six innings per game, but Cueto looks to help that as he currently averages almost seven innings per start. He also goes from the fourth place Reds to the second best team in baseball.
Finnegan was a first round pick in the 2014 draft and made an immediate impact in the Royals run to the World Series. He became the first player ever to appear in a College World Series and the World Series in the same season. He’s posted a 3-1 record in his brief career with a 2.59 ERA and has made 14 appearances this season for Kansas City with a 2.96 ERA. At the time of the trade he was at Triple-A Omaha.
His fellow Storm Chaser teammate, John Lamb, will join him in Louisville as the lefty starter has gone 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 19 starts for the Royals Triple-A squad. In 94.1 innings of work he has 96 strikeouts with 80 hits and 29 walks. Kansas City acquired Lamb in the fifth round of the 2008 draft.
The final piece of the trade is Cody Reed who was just promoted to Double-A in late June. Reed will head to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Reds double affiliate. He was a mid-season All-Star in the Carolina League this season after going 5-5 with a 2.14 ERA in 13 games including ten starts. In his five appearances at the Double-A level he has a 2-2 record with a 3.45 ERA.
Cincinnati also sent cash considerations to the Royals to help eat some of the $3 million that Cueto is set to make the rest of the season. He was slated to start Thursday against the Pirates, but instead it could be Tony Cingrani or David Holmberg that gets recalled from Triple-A.
This could be the first of many trades as Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce, and Marlon Byrd have all been linked to different teams that are interested in making a move for the Reds talent.