The Royals are interested in Johnny Cueto

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Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals are “pushing hard” for Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto. He adds, however, that their needs for an outfielder — particularly following the unfortunate injury to Alex Gordon — may trump their need for a starter.

Cueto, 29, has put together another terrific season, owning a 2.73 ERA with a 113/22 K/BB ratio over 118 2/3 innings. The 40-47, fourth-place Reds are shopping Cueto as he is eligible for free agency after the season.

Meanwhile, the 53-35, first-place Royals are looking to bolster a rotation currently led by Edinson Volquez and is otherwise not reliable for late season drama or in a short post-season series. Jeremy Guthrie, Yordano Ventura, and Danny Duffy have ERA’s of 4.65 or worse.

Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.