Phillies: Five starting pitchers to add at the trade deadline
The Phillies probably can’t afford to trade for Johnny Cueto
Who would have thought we’d still be talking about Johnny Cueto in 2020? After three top-six Cy Young finishes Cueto fell off due to injuries, making only 13 starts in his last two seasons.
Now back and healthy for Gabe Kapler’s San Francisco Giants, Cueto has rebounded to start the 2020 season.
Through a league-high six starts (showing off his health early on) Cueto has won two games with a modest 4.35 ERA. He’s struck out 27 batters and walked only 12 in 31 innings, showing he can still be effective at 34-years-old
It’s very possible that the Giants move Cueto this year given where the organization stands in their rebuild, but it would be tough for the Phillies to be able to acquire him.
In 2016 Cueto signed a six year deal worth $130 million with San Francisco, much of which he hasn’t lived up to because of the injuries. In this shortened season he’s making $7.77 million and he has another guaranteed year left worth $21 million.
More from That Balls Outta Here
- 11 Free-agent deals the Philadelphia Phillies wish fell through
- Phillies-Mets owners’ rivalry grows after shocking Carlos Correa deal
- Could Rich Hill become ‘Jamie Moyer 2.0’ in Phillies rotation?
- Does Bailey Falter have a future in Phillies’ rotation?
- Prospect Andrew Baker could help Phillies bullpen in 2023
Cueto also has a club option worth $22 million in 2022 that can be bought out for $5 million, which is likely given where his career currently stands.
There are a couple of reasons why that contract isn’t appealing for the Phillies.
First, in a season where teams aren’t making much money, it’s hard to see teams taking on approximately $30 million for an aging pitcher with a history of injuries like Cueto, regardless of how he’s bounced back.
Second, the Phillies are already up against the luxury tax, barely staying under with their recent trades to upgrade the bullpen. General manager Matt Klentak has called the $208 luxury tax a guide and not a hard barrier. They’re believed to be right up against the cap, so if they want a high-priced guy like Cueto they’ll have to either go over the tax or give up a better prospect for San Francisco to pay more of the contract.
I don’t see this one happening, but if the Phillies can move a big contract in the deal it might work out.