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.

Phillies sign Drew Storen and Bud Norris to minor league deals

Drew Storen
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.

Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.

Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.

The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.