Johnny Cueto set for Royals debut Friday

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Right-hander Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make his Royals debut Friday against the Blue Jays in Toronto after being acquired from the Reds in exchange for minor leaguers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.

Cueto made his final start for the Reds on Saturday, shutting out the Rockies for eight innings at Coors Field, so his first start for the Royals will come on one extra day of rest than normal.

Cueto has a 2.62 ERA and 120/29 K/BB ratio in 131 innings this season, posting a sub-3.00 ERA for the fifth straight year. Among all pitchers with at least 100 starts since 2011 only Clayton Kershaw has a lower ERA than Cueto’s mark of 2.51.

As for who’s leaving the Royals’ rotation to make room for Cueto’s arrival, manager Ned Yost says he’s not sure yet if it’ll be Jeremy Guthrie or Chris Young.

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.