The Kansas City Royals announced that they have acquired right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto and cash considerations from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed. The addition of Cueto will help strengthen a Royals team that is leading the AL Central and hoping to contend in the postseason.
There had been questions regarding Cueto's health, and his struggles had sparked debate regarding the effect his value -- altered or otherwise -- would have on the deadline. However, in what was potentially his last start in a Reds uniform -- factoring in he would be traded before July 30 -- Cueto went eight innings strong against the Rockies, allowing just four hits and a walk, striking out five and not allowing a run.
Cueto had been linked to a several teams, including the Blue Jays and Orioles, though interest had been preliminary -- essentially due diligence. The Yankees and Dodgers had also sent scouts to his July 19 interleague start against the Indians.
There had been rumors that the Royals would be pushing hard to get Cueto as early as July 18. And on July 25 following Cueto's start, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Royals were "close to acquiring Cueto" but the "deal fell through." And according to SB Nation's Chris Cotillo, the deal came so close that the Reds had righty Michael Lorenzen warming up in the bullpen in case the team had to pull Cueto.
The health concerns stem primarily from stiffness experienced in Cueto's pitching elbow on multiple occasions this year. An MRI done on his elbow on Tuesday, May 26 showed no structural damage, and Cueto missed just the one start on May 31. He also had the same stiffness in mid-June and had a start pushed back, but since his initial missed start, Cueto has posted a 2.20 ERA in 10 starts.
The Reds, who sit in fourth place in the NL Central, get three young southpaws to help their rebuilding efforts. The 25-year-old Finnegan has a 3-0 record and 2.96 ERA in a relief role this season, while Lamb and Reed are currently in the minors.
SB Nation presents: Reds manager's April tirade set to 'Hey Jude'