Johnny Cueto won’t negotiate extension with Reds past Opening Day

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Johnny Cueto is set to become a free agent next offseason, but the Reds have a small window of time to convince their ace to stick around for the long-term. Cueto’s agent, Bryce Dixon, told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman that his client plans to cut off extension talks if a deal isn’t reached by Opening Day.

“He’ll give it until Opening Day,” Dixon said by phone. “Then he’s going to be focused on the season and trying to do what he can for Cincinnati. If something happens, we’re probably to keep it to this offseason. We’re not going to be looking to do something this summer.”

The Reds began extension talks at the Winter Meetings two weeks ago, but general manager Walt Jocketty said at the time that “it won’t be easy.” That’s understandable. Dixon has compared Cueto to Jon Lester, who recently signed a six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs and Max Scherzer, who hopes to land a $200 million deal this winter.

Cueto turns 29 in February and owns a 2.48 ERA since 2011. While he was limited to just 11 starts in 2013 due to a lat injury, he bounced back this year with the best season of his career, posting a 2.25 ERA and 242/65 K/BB ratio in 243 2/3 innings over 34 starts. He finished second in the National League Cy Young Award balloting.