KC Royals Trades: 4 great past deals with Cincinnati

(Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Johnny Cueto
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

This All-Star pitcher helped the KC Royals to a World Series championship.

Johnny Cueto was on top of the world from 2011-2014 with Cincinnati when he went 53-25 with a 2.48 ERA; 2014 was his best year when he won 20 games, had a 2.25 ERA, 242 strikeouts over a National League high 243.2 innings, and made the All-Star team.

Then, at the 2015 All-Star Break, he was 6-6 with a 2.73 at the same time the Royals were making a push for the playoffs after losing a heartbreaking Game 7 to the Giants in the 2014 World Series. They needed a top-notch ace like Cueto and went all-in, trading Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed to get him. While Finnegan and Lamb haven’t pitched in the majors since 2018, and Reed pitched 9.2 innings for the Rays in 2021, the deal was a victory for the Royals.

Although Cueto went 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA after the trade, he had a couple of fantastic efforts in the postseason. He started slowly, allowing four runs against Houston in Game 2 of the ALDS (the Royals eventually won), but bounced back in Game 5, giving up only two runs and striking out eight in eight innings in KC’s clinching 7-2 win.

And despite giving up eight runs in just two innings in Game 3 of the ALCS against Toronto, Cueto was terrific against the Mets in Game 2 of the World Series in a victorious complete game—he yielded just one run and became the first AL pitcher since 1991 to hurl a complete World Series game.

Though Cueto stayed only half a season in Kansas City, it was a sweet sight to see him help lead the Royals to their first World Series title in 30 years.