The trade deadline is drawing nearer and the rumors are starting to sizzle as well. One of the most sought-after pitchers on the trade market, Johnny Cueto, is drawing tons of trade interest. His most aggressive suitors are reported to be the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Houston Astros as tweeted by Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The Cincinnati Reds‘ ace is having himself a fine season as he has pitched to a 2.73 ERA across 118.2 innings of work over 17 starts so far this season. He is in the final year of his contract with the Reds and is due $5 million the rest of the season before he becomes a free agent. It’s been a poorly kept secret that he will most likely be traded by the trade deadline in order for the Reds to get some value back for him rather than letting him leave for nothing.
The Astros are the most surprising suitors. They entered the season with very low expectations but have surged to the top of the AL West Division. They had been in first place for several weeks before their latest skid as they sit at 49-42 but are just half a game back of the Los Angeles Angels for first place in the division. The addition of Cueto to their young pitching staff would give them a tremendous boost.
The Blue Jays have been a pleasant surprise this season as well. Their biggest strength has been the overwhelming power of their offense as they are averaging a whopping six runs a game. Their pitching has been mediocre, though, and Cueto would instantly become the ace of the rotation should they swing a deal for him.
The Royals have not slowed down since their run to the World Series last year. They are in firm control of their division as they hold a 52-34 record and are sitting comfortably in first place in the AL Central division. Their pitching has been solid, but their rotation does not pack the same talent it has held in years past, and the concern is that some of their pitchers will collapse down the stretch. Their bullpen has logged some of the most innings in the majors this year, so getting a proven commodity like Cueto who is capable of pitching deep into games can only take some pressure off.