Johnny Cueto will be a free agent next offseason and has said he won’t negotiate a contract past Opening Day, leading most people to assume that the Reds ace is a goner after this season.
However, general manager Walt Jocketty had a slightly more optimistic viewpoint Thursday during an interview with MLB Network:
With Johnny, we’ll never say “never.” We are going to do everything we can to try and come up with some sort of plan to keep him. I’m not sure we’ll be able to, because the numbers are obviously starting to skyrocket and it’s very tough in our market to continue to retain guys at a high price like that. We’ll continue to work on that and see where it comes out.
When it’s early February and a GM is already going to the “we’re not a big market” quotes regarding an impending free agent that’s a pretty bad sign, although the Reds did hand out a $225 million contract to first baseman Joey Votto recently (and $105 million to Homer Bailey even more recently).
Cueto threw a league-leading 244 innings with a 2.25 ERA and league-high 242 strikeouts last season to finish runner-up in the Cy Young balloting to Clayton Kershaw. He’s under contract for $10 million in 2015 and turns 29 years old next week.