San Francisco Giants to Sign Johnny Cueto for $130 Million

The Giants have reportedly signed Johnny Cueto for six years and $130 million.  The contract provides that Cueto can opt out after two seasons (his age 30 and 31 seasons).

For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I’m not quite as excited about the Giants signing Cueto as perhaps I should be.  He was really great in 2014 at age 28, but his strikeout rate was aberrantly high that one season.  He also threw 243.2 IP that year, which is an awful lot.

He pitched really well for the Reds last year, but didn’t pitch particularly well for the Royals late in the season with the exception of his one World Series start.  All I can say is that I hope Cueto is really healthy the next two seasons, so he opts out of his contract with the Giants only on the hook for $46M paid as of that date, and the team then in a position to reevaluate if it wants to bring Cueto back for more.  If the Giants fade in 2017, the answer is probably not.

This deal has the feeling of the Giants wanting to keep Cueto out of the Dodgers’ hands almost as much as the Giants wanting to him for their own 2016 performance.  That said, Cueto added to Madison Bumgarner and the previously signed Jeff Samardzija certainly gives the Giants a starting rotation as strong as anyone’s going into the 2016 season.

The Giants have certainly addressed their most pressing off-season need, and I’m sure that signing Cueto and Samardzija will give their season ticket sales a boost.  The question now is whether the Giants have enough money left to sign the left fielder they need to replace Nori Aoki and to give the team a little more right-handed hitting pop.

I certainty don’t think that is impossible.  The Giants are absolutely loaded right after three World Series Championships in five seasons.  Their home games are almost all sold out, and their ticket prices are high, due to relatively small number of available seats and the extreme wealth in San Francisco and the Bay Area generally.

The Giants reportedly offered Zack Greinke $195 million for six years, which, if true, makes the big money Cueto signing a no surprise.  If the Giants had signed Greinke, I’m still certain they would have signed a second starter, albeit a less expensive one than Cueto, or an outfielder.  Thus, while I wouldn’t expect the Giants to sign the top remaining corner outfielder (Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes), I wouldn’t count them out on the likes of a Alex Gordon or Dexter Fowler, although I’m kind of doubtful either Gorden or Fowler is really worth the free agent contracts they are likely to get.

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