This afternoon the Reds officially announced the long-term contract extension with Johnny Cueto that was first reported last week.
Cueto, who was arbitration eligible for the first time this season and submitted a figure of $3.9 million, gets a four-year deal worth an estimated $27 million and the Reds also hold an undisclosed team option for 2015.
In other words, they bought out all three of his arbitration-eligible seasons and his first year of free agency, with the option to buy out his second year of free agency as well. Cincinnati now controls Cueto through his age-29 season.
Ranked among baseball’s elite pitching prospects while coming up through the minors, Cueto surprisingly won a spot in the Opening Day rotation as a 22-year-old in 2008 and has sliced his ERA from 4.81 to 4.41 to 3.64 in three seasons. He hasn’t racked up quite as many strikeouts as his minor-league numbers and raw stuff suggested was possible, but Cueto looks likely to be a solid No. 2 starter long term.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.