Analyzing the Cincinnati Reds Trade of Johnny Cueto


Yesterday, the Cincinnati Reds made a difficult—but necessary—decision to trade one of the best pitchers in team history, sending Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for a trio of young left-handed pitchers. Although the trade was inevitable, it’s not easy to see a once-in-a-generation talent walk out the door. However, the trade might be a little easier to swallow when you look at the talent the Reds got in return.

No, Walt Jocketty didn’t acquire Royals top prospect Raul Mondesi, but he still managed to receive a nice haul in Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.

In Finnegan and Lamb, the Reds have a pair of pitchers who could make an impact in Cincinnati sooner than later.

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Finnegan was the Royals first-round pick in 2014 and has already seen time in the major leagues. The 22-year-old will be a starter with the Reds, but was used by the Royals in a relief role and showed off his upper-90s fastball coming out of the bullpen during their playoff run last year. For now, he’ll head to Triple-A Louisville in order to stretch out to become a starter, but don’t be surprised to see him in Cincinnati by season’s end.

Lamb, 25, will also be sent to Louisville, where he’ll hope to continue his career revitalization. A former top-15 prospect (in all of baseball), Lamb’s career was slowed by Tommy John surgery in 2011, but he’s regained his form in 2015, sporting a 2.67 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in Triple-A Omaha. Lamb will probably see time with the Reds before Finnegan since he’s already been serving as a starter, and could be an option to take Cueto’s spot in the rotation if Tony Cingrani (who I’m guessing will start in Cueto’s stead on Thursday) falters again.

The player furthest away from the big leagues is Reed, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper says he could be the sleeper in the deal. Following subpar performances in his first two minor league seasons, the 22-year-old has had a breakout season, posting a 2.53 ERA and 1.19 WHIP between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Only time will tell whether the Reds are winners or losers in the deal, but getting that kind of quality for a rental player is something fans should be pleased with. There was no way the team could afford to re-sign Cueto after the season and rather than taking the compensation pick that would’ve come with losing him in free agency, they got three talented young pitchers who could make an impact in the Reds starting rotation in the future. Moreover, only Finnegan has major league service time, so all will be under team control for the foreseeable future.

It was a bit surprising that the Reds didn’t target a hitter, considering the organization’s need for them, but the Royals don’t have many hitting prospects themselves and the Reds likely aren’t done dealing. Mike Leake and Marlon Byrd will likely go before Friday’s deadline, while Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce are also candidates to be dealt away, meaning that Jocketty will have additional opportunities to acquire young hitters.

For now, Reds fans can take solace in knowing that their ace pitcher wasn’t given away for nothing, as all three pitchers acquired have high upside and each could make a big impact with the club down the line.

Next: Reds' Twitter reacts to the Johnny Cueto deal