It isn’t much of a surprise, but the Reds have traded star starting pitcher Johnny Cueto in exchange for 3 left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed. Cueto is a free agent after the season and it was clear that Cincinnati probably wasn’t going to be able to re-sign him, so now he essentially becomes a rental player for the Royals. Kansas City has struggled pitching wise this season and they expected young pitcher Yordano Ventura to be the ace of their rotation, but he has struggled this year as he is 4-7 with a 4.86 ERA. Also, Jason Vargas is out for the season with a torn UCL which has thinned the Royals starting rotation out even more. Cueto is coming off a terrific start against the Rockies on Saturday and he will give Kansas City a consistent pitcher to try and make a deep playoff run this season. The Royals already have enough hitting and they probably have the best bullpen in the MLB right now and now that they have Cueto it will really make their team nearly complete. I’d still like to see the Royals go out and get another one or two starting pitchers, yet it’s unknown whether they can pull off another trade. Meanwhile, it is a good trade for the Reds because they are getting 3 players that don’t need much more development and they are almost pretty good major league ready players. Brandon Finnegan has already had success at the MLB level as he is 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA this season. I think he’ll have a good opportunity to get more playing time with Cincinnati and he will help improve a struggling Reds bullpen right away. John Lamb has a lot of potential as well and he was considered one of the top 20 prospects in all of baseball. Lamb was a 5th round pick in 2008, so it is highly likely that he is ready to at least make his debut for the Reds really soon. Cody Reed is probably the furthest away from all 3 players from getting to the MLB level, but he has been impressive in the Royals minor league system this season in Double-A as he has a 2.53 ERA. This is a terrific trade for the future for Cincinnati and they got some pretty good prospects in return for Cueto which will help speed up the rebuilding process.
Royals Grade: A- – The Royals were desperate for starting pitching and getting a consistent all-star caliber pitcher like Johnny Cueto will help a lot to make them a complete team. It does hurt to give up some talented prospects especially John Lamb, but that is the price that a team has to pay to get a great pitcher like Cueto. The Royals probably didn’t have much of a use for Lamb and Finnegan anyway. Cueto is only a rental player for the Royals which is why this trade doesn’t get a better grade.
Reds Grade: A – Cincinnati knew they weren’t going to re-sign Cueto and as hard as it was to trade him away it was the right move for the Reds. The Reds aren’t going to the playoffs this season, so it would have been a waste to keep Cueto on the roster and then lose him in free agency. I really like how they are getting some major league ready prospects in return that can help the team right way especially Brandon Finnegan who can help in the bullpen. I would’ve liked to see Cincinnati get some more variety in the trade instead of all left-handed pitchers, but it was still a good trade for them either way.