New York Yankees Rumors: Johnny Cueto May Have Pitched His Last Game With Reds


Johnny Cueto absolutely dazzled the Washington Nationals lineup on Tuesday, out-dueling the $210 Million Dollar man Max Scherzer by tossing a 122-pitch, two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in a 5-0 win. Cueto finished stronger than he started, as he retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced, improving his record to 6-5 with an outstanding 2.61 ERA. Interestingly enough, Cueto is one of the five players in the first ever ‘Final Vote’ ballot jockeying for the last roster spot in the National League All-Star lineup, and sure enough, Cueto is the leading vote getter after his latest performance.

But even more interesting is the fact that this could have been Johnny Cueto’s last start as Cincinnati Red.

With his team currently sitting at 38-44 – 15.5 games behind the NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals and seven games back of the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card spot – and with Cueto an impending free-agent after this season, all signs point to Cueto being the biggest name available during the July 31st trade deadline. His numbers insist he’s better than Cole Hamels and obviously Scott Kazmir (the two other pitchers gaining significant trade interest), but he’s also potentially going to be the cheapest to acquire since he’s essentially just a two-month rental before being able to command top dollar during the 2015 MLB Winter Meetings.

As we mentioned previously on Yanks Go Yard, the Yankees have been scouting Johnny Cueto significantly over the past past few weeks, and yes, they had scouts in attendance for his dominant performance in Nationals Park on Tuesday. However, according to Joel Sherman, this time the Yankees were joined by scouts from AL East Rivals Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays:

Aside from the Orioles and Blue Jays, other teams with reported interest are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals and probably a plethora of other teams around the MLB.

So how can the Yankees set themselves apart from the rest of the pack when it comes time for Walt Jocketty to start fielding offers for the 29-year old right-hander?

The answer is simple, and it benefits both teams:

Take on the last two years and $27 million owed to Brandon Phillips in a package with Johnny Cueto.

For the Reds, it’s no secret that Brandon Phillips, who turned 34 last month, is no longer an elite performer, as he’s slashing .277/.315/.371 this season with just five home runs. Ridding their payroll of Phillips contract will give the Reds a ton of financial freedom to work with in  terms of rebuilding their roster. After all, the Reds are currently paying over 10% of their annual payroll to Phillips, and that factors in obligations to Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Homer BaileyAroldis Chapman, and of course Johnny Cueto.

For the Yankees, a push for a 28th World Series is inevitable, and taking on the back-loaded contract of Phillips is well worth it if it means adding Cueto.

For starters, despite his home run in Wednesdays contest against the Oakland A’s, I still believe that Brandon Phillips is an upgrade over Stephen Drew.

Also, the Yankees are in dire need of a starter. Health was the biggest question-mark surrounding their starting rotation, and though the team just got Ivan Nova back from tommy john surgery, there have been signs that their starting pitching is beginning to deteriorate . Masahiro Tanaka spent over a month on the DL and according to LoHud, C.C. Sabathia, who we all thought had his spot in the rotation skipped because he was getting shelled, was actually passed over because he had his knee drained:

Obviously this is quite alarming considering the fact that microscopic knee surgery shut down Sabathia for nearly all of 2014, and on a larger scale, the Yankees are one more significant pitching injury away from collapsing and bowing out of a playoff run.

Thus, in a market where prices for second half rental pitcher has significantly decreased ever since the MLB decided to get rid of compensation draft picks for impending free-agents dealt before the trade deadline, using their wallet to their advantage and adding the aging Brandon Phillips to a deal is certainly the best possible way for the Yankees to distinguish themselves as a better trade partner than the rest of the pack.

What do you think Yankee fans? Can Brian Cashman make it happen?

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