Report: Johnny Cueto seeking $200 million “or thereabouts”

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The Reds and starter Johnny Cueto didn’t reach an agreement on a contract extension before the right-hander’s Opening Day deadline. In fact, the Reds were so sure they wouldn’t be able to strike a deal, they didn’t appear to have even submitted an offer to Cueto, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Per Heyman, Cueto is reportedly seeking a $200 million contract “or thereabouts”.

Cueto, 29, is coming off of the best season of his career, finishing second in NL Cy Young balloting to Clayton Kershaw. He posted a 2.25 ERA and a 242/65 K/BB ratio in 243 2/3 innings. Cueto has finished with an ERA below 2.85 in each of the last three seasons (min. 20 starts).

Given the recent contracts signed by Max Scherzer ($210 million over seven years) and Jon Lester ($155 million over six years), it’s understandable why Cueto is holding out for a big payday. However, he’ll be joining a very crowded market for free agent starting pitchers this off-season. Barring new extensions, he’ll be joined by Doug Fister, Yovani Gallardo, Scott Kazmir, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, David Price, Jeff Samardzija, Jordan Zimmermann, and potentially Zack Greinke if he opts out of his contract with the Dodgers. The saturation of the starting pitching market could take a year or two and quite a few million off of Cueto’s final price.

The Reds should be expected to shop Cueto heavily leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.