Royals acquire ace Johnny Cueto from the Reds

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Reds ace Johnny Cueto is headed to the Kansas City Royals, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The two sides nearly reached an agreement on Saturday night before Cueto took the mound at Coors Field, but one of the players due to move from the Royals to the Reds did not check out medically. Negotiations continued into late Sunday morning, and the Kansas City front office was eventually able to modify its return package to Cincinnati’s liking.

As first reported by MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, that return package is Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed — all young left-handed pitchers. Finnegan was a first-rounder in 2014 and Reed was a second-rounder in 2013. Lamb is a former top prospect who has rebuilt some of his stock this year at age 25. It’s not a bad haul for the rebuilding Reds.

Cueto tossed eight scoreless innings on Saturday night against the Rockies and boasts a a 2.62 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 120/29 K/BB ratio in 130 2/3 total frames this season. He carries a 2.51 ERA since the beginning of the 2011 campaign, which is second only to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw over that span.

The 29-year-old impending free agent had also drawn trade interest from the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros, and Orioles. He’s a tremendous fit — even as a rental — for the AL Central-leading Royals.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.