SEATTLE – Another big-name starter came off the market Sunday when the Cincinnati Reds dealt Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals, and while the Toronto Blue Jays continue to search for pitching help, their hunt may drag to Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
Attempts to land Cueto, who’ll make his debut with the defending American League champions later this week at Rogers Centre, by the Blue Jays never gained much traction as the asking price, described as always big, is believed to have started at Marcus Stroman plus other prospects, a total non-starter.
The Royals sent three left-handed pitching prospects, including Brandon Finnegan, the 17th overall pick in 2014, to the Reds for Cueto. Prospect equivalency is a tricky game, and beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, with one team’s stud being another’s slug.
There may be some risk with Cueto given that he needed extra rest between starts last month because of an elbow issue, but the right-hander looked strong during eight shutout innings against Colorado on Saturday night.
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Whatever the case, Cueto and Scott Kazmir are both with new teams, and another apparent Blue Jays target, Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians, is no longer on the table after the sides are thought to have come close to a deal that fell apart near the finish line.
It’s unknown what caused the potential trade to collapse, but an acquisition such as Carrasco makes far more sense for the Blue Jays since he comes with multiple years of club control, which helps justify the spending of prospect capital.
To that end, the club’s continuing interest in Mike Fiers of the Milwaukee Brewers, as reported by Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com, fits the mould of previous deals by GM Alex Anthopoulos.
At the same time, the Blue Jays continue to monitor rentals such as Jeff Samardzija of the Chicago White Sox and, potentially, David Price of the Detroit Tigers, though as of Sunday afternoon nothing was imminent on any front.
Things on the pitching market may slow down now from here to the finish line.
The Blue Jays need to bolster a rotation that was inconsistent even before Aaron Sanchez was moved to the bullpen to stabilize what had been a shaky relief corps. With Sanchez joining Roberto Osuna and Bo Schultz in forming a late-game lockdown crew, Anthopoulos has turned his focus on bolstering the starting staff of Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, Drew Hutchison and Felix Doubront.
Triple-A Buffalo left-handers Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd are the top internal options for rotation help.