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Arizona Diamondbacks Turned Down by Johnny Cueto

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Free agent pitcher Johnny Cueto turned down a six-year, $120 million dollar offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have attempted to fill their starting pitching needs by making a splash in the free agent market. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango and their partner did not seem so receptive.

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According to Steve Glibert at mlb.com, the D-backs made a significant offer to right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto but were rebuffed in their advances. The deal was believed to be for six years and $120 million dollars for the 29-year old Cueto who finished 2015 as a member of the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. Though he struggled with the Royals after coming over from the Cincinnati Reds, Cueto established himself as a Kansas City hero with his complete game victory in Game Two of the Fall Classic. For the season, he went 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA in 32 total starts but only 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts for the Royals.

Cueto, signed by the Reds at the age of 18 as an amateur free agent in 2004, owns a lifetime mark of 96-70 with a 3.30 ERA, compiled with half of his starts in the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park. He was an All-Star in 2014 and finished second in the Cy Young Award race after going 20-9 and leading the National League in strikeouts with 242. Cueto finished fourth in in the balloting for the award in 2012 after going 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA. Despite the glowing statistics, D-backs’ fans do not have happy memories of one of his pitches.

On May 31st, 2014, a Cueto fastball broke the hand of A.J. Pollock, sidelining the budding superstar for the next three months. At the time of the incident, Pollock was about to win his second National League Player of the Week award in a three week span. He was on pace for his first All-Star Game selection, an honor that was fulfilled in 2015. However, would fans forget about all that had he come to Arizona, made his 30 plus starts a year and averaged 17 wins per season? You bet.

According to Nick Piecoro at azcentral, the D-backs may not done trying to woo Cueto. Quoting general manager Dave Stewart:

"I guess ultimately that decision is going to be made by ownership, if we can go there. Having a conversation with him gave us an idea of what’s going to happen and what he’s thinking. We’re going to have to wait and see how this thing plays out."

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With Jordan Zimmerman coming off the market with his five-year, $110 million dollar deal with the Detroit Tigers, Cueto now has an idea of his worth on the open market. Zimmerman’s average amount per year is $22 million meaning Cueto is looking at $25 million and above. That doesn’t seem like a comfortable spot for ownership. We’ll see how this plays out.

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