Sep 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
You can almost see the picture if you close your eyes and imagine about the great snake-oil salesmen of past centuries: Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty walks into a room full of other executives at the 2014 GM meetings in Phoenix, AZ, opens his bag of panaceas and starts selling to the masses. Only in Jocketty’s case, what he might be selling are staring pitchers according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and teams are eager to make their pitch. The plum of the Reds’ rotation, and entire roster, of course, is Cy Young award finalist Johnny Cueto.
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Heyman maintains that the Reds would have to be “overwhelmed” in order to trade Cueto. But what would it take to overwhelm Jocketty an owner Bob Castellini?
It probably really would take a lot, as both men maintain that the Reds will be contenders in 2014. If they are to trade Cueto now, they would probably want a solid Major League hitter (preferably in the outfield), a Major-League-ready starting pitcher or an established bullpen arms, multiple prospects and maybe salary relief, depending on who the players coming back are.
It sounds like a lot, but there are teams out there who could make it happen, either alone or with a third trading partner. Teams like the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. Maybe the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Reds won’t see that kind of booty in the regular season, so it would be in their best interest to line up the richest deal for Cueto that they can, NOW, and then figure out of that makes more sense than trying to sign him long-term or going for broke in 2015.
Castellini and Jocketty will tell you that they don’t have the money to expand payroll significantly, which is what it would take to keep Cueto around into his 30s. The Reds’ brass would also tell you that they can win, and win big, in 2015, but that is a tall task in the face of sweeping injury concerns, a terrible offense in 2014 and the strengthening of the NL Central as a division, including the rising Chicago Cubs.
No, Jocketty is going to get other teams’ best shots at acquiring Cueto now, in Phoenix this week. He should think hard about pulling the trigger on the best of those deals and looking toward the future in Cincinnati.