Monday, July 27, 2015

Johnny Cueto is headed to Kansas City, where he'll front the Royals' rotation. (USATSI)

While some reports had it that talks between the two sides had stalled on Saturday, Heyman reported Sunday morning that the deal was still alive.
Cueto, 29, has pitched to a 2.62 ERA (145 ERA+) in 130 2/3 innings this season. For his career, Cueto owns an ERA+ of 125 across 213 starts. He's been even better than that in recent history, as he's run an ERA of 2.51 (155 ERA+) since his breakout season of 2011. Over that span, only Clayton Kershaw, among qualifiers, has posted a lower ERA. While injuries were a past concern, Cueto since the start of last season has worked 374 1/3 innings.

Cueto is owed the balance of a $10-million salary for 2015, and he's eligible for free agency this upcoming offseason.
While the Royals, reigning AL champions, are enjoying a successful season thus far in 2015 -- they're on pace for 98 wins and presently lead the AL Central by 6 1/2 games over the Twins -- the rotation needed reinforcement, particularly after the season-ending injury to Jason Vargas and the disappointing performance of Yordano Ventura. This season, the Royals' rotation ranks last in the AL in WAR, 11th in the AL in ERA, 14th in the AL in quality-start percentage, and last in innings per start. Needless to say, an established ace like Cueto directly addresses those shortcomings.
On the Cincy side of things, Finnegan is probably the headliner. The 17th-overall pick of the 2014 draft out of TCU, Finnegan pitched his way to the Royals' playoff roster last season. He has the stuff and repertoire to be a starter at the highest level, but it's a matter of improving his command. Finnegan is also a "high floor" type, who should still do well as a big-league reliever if he's unable to stick as a starter.

As for Lamb, the 25-year-old has appeared in top-100 prospect lists in the past. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 but took longer than anticipated to recover. This season, however, he's bounced back nicely. At his best, Lamb's fastball sits in the mid-90s. Reed, meantime, was a second-rounder in 2013 who's run a 4.21 ERA and 1.96 K/BB ratio in 52 minor-league games, 40 of which have been starts. The 22-year-old showed good progress this season at high-Class A and Double-A.
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