1.) Johnny Cueto, RHP
2016 Projected Stats: 12-11, 201.0 IP, 3.52 ERA, 7.67 K/9
Even before his trade to Kansas City at the trade deadline, Johnny Cueto was expecting to make big bucks this offseason. After a strong 2.73 ERA in the first half with the Reds, Cueto finished the second half with the Royals with an ERA that ballooned to 4.34. Questions swirled about what role Cueto would have in the postseason for the Royals and he largely took a backseat in the starting rotation. In the 2015 postseason, Cueto sandwiched two good starts between two mediocre starts, finishing with his most effective start of the postseason in which he threw a complete game while only giving up one earned run.
The biggest criticism of Cueto in recent years has been about him falling apart in high pressure situations. Whether it was his Wild Card game start with Cincinnati in Pittsburgh a few years back, or his absolutely disastrous road performance against the Blue jays this postseason, Cueto has a history of struggling in road starts. With that in mind, any team thinking about signing him this offseason must be wary about the potential for Cueto’s contract to become an albatross in three or four years time. Cueto is a strong overall pitcher but needs to prove himself on a consistent basis for any big contract to be worth the risk.