Suddenly, the San Francisco Giants starting rotation looks unexpectedly promising.
The Giants’ primary offseason goal was clear as ice heading into winter: Solidify a rotation reaching decrepit levels. After signing Jeff Samardzija — a righty practically giddy to take on pitcher’s haven AT&T Park alongside Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner — to a five-year, $90 million deal, the Giants went ahead and grabbed another top starter, Johnny Cueto, to a six-year, $130 million deal, pending a physical.
The contract allows Cueto the option to opt out after the second year.
the 29-year-old Cueto was arguably the best option left on this offseason‘s pitcher-rich free agent list. He just grabbed a World Series ring with Kansas City with a fairly uneven postseason performance. He gave up eight runs in two innings against the Blue Jays in the ALCS, but followed that with a dominant one-run complete game to seal the World Series for the Royals.
Cueto signed with the Reds in 2004 and made his debut in 2008. He remained with Cincy for seven seasons and pitched in three postseasons before being traded to the Royals mid-2015. He pitched a total 212 innings in 2015 with a 3.44 ERA. He had is breakout season in 2014, posting a 2.25 ERA in 243-2/3 innings.
Cueto could be a potential innings-eater, like Samardzija, and a sure-fire top-of-the-rotation guy behind Bumgarner.
An updated tentative rotation: Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, with Chris Heston as the probable long man, since the Giants passed on Yusmeiro Petit, who has since signed with the Washington Nationals. Even with Cain as a perennial question mark this offseason, that rotation has potential to be very difficult to get through.
Samardzija told reporters at his introductory press conference that he was tipping pitches late in his season with the White Sox, and Cueto has proven, at times this offseason and in seasons past, that he holds potential for greatness. If Bruce Bochy, Dave Righetti and Buster Posey can work their magic, both could return to top form.
The Giants put $220 million worth of apples in the rotation’s basket, basically shutting the door on a left fielder signing. They could go very small and cheap there, or count on the tag team of Gregor Blanco/Mac Williamson/Jarrett Parker to get the job done.