KC Royals Johnny Cueto Fueling Free Agent Speculation


Johnny Cueto turned down a six year, $120 Million offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks a few days ago. While that decision may not have been that surprising, one has to wonder if the former KC Royals pitcher has somewhere else in mind.

Johnny Cueto’s time in Kansas City was a bit of a mixed bag. There were times that he dazzled with his performance, such as his amazing start in Game Two of the World Series. Then there were times, such as when he allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks in three against the White Sox on September 6th. Overall, for the Royals, Cueto posted a 4-7 record with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.451 WHiP, a far cry from the ace pitcher he had been with the Reds.

With that being the case, Cueto’s foray into free agency was certainly going to be interesting to watch. Even if he had seen his expected salary decrease with his performance in Kansas City, Cueto was still considered the third best starter available, trailing only David Price and former Royal Zack Greinke.

Given that Price just received a seven year, $217 Million contract from the Red Sox, and that Jordan Zimmermann received a five year, $110 Million contract from the Tigers, one can understand why Cueto would have declined that offer. Cueto, even with those struggles, is still considered to be on a tier above Zimmermann, making his likely contract someplace between those two deals.

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Or, perhaps there is something else in Johnny Cueto’s mind. Shortly after rejecting the Diamondbacks offer, Cueto posted this image on his Instagram account, showing a meeting with he and Salvador Perez on the mound. This photo was also captioned with an interesting phrase that, when translated, says “I am talking to Perez an’ll strip.” Not even sure what that last part would mean….

Chances are, this photograph being posted on Cueto’s Instagram account does not mean anything. After all, Cueto was not expected to be retained by the KC Royals, given his price tag and his struggles after his arrival. Unless the Royals are convinced that Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist will both be departing, and Cueto is willing to remain at a significant discount, it seems doubtful that this was anything more than Cueto fondly remembering a moment he had en route to winning the World Series.

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It is fun to speculate as to where a player will end up once they enter free agency. Any little hint is pounced upon, and can be listed as hope for that free agent to end up on a team. In this case, Johnny Cueto’s new Instagram post will simply fuel the hopes that he will return to the KC Royals, as unlikely as that may be.