3 wily veterans who could be short-term solutions at the backend of the Reds rotation

Rather than a frontline starter, will the Reds look to add depth to the backend of the rotation?

Boston Red Sox pitcher Corey Kluber
Boston Red Sox pitcher Corey Kluber / David Berding/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Cardinals kind of turned the free agent market on its head this week after signing Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson to one-year contracts. Combined, the duo will coct $22 million and both players have a team-option included in their contract for the 2025 season.

This is a bit unusual, as aging starters and mid-tier pitchers typically take a backseat during the early-going of the free agent period while the high-dollar, frontline starters get signed first. But perhaps the Cardinals are on to something here.

With the Cincinnati Reds having so many young, talented starting pitchers within the organization, should president of baseball operations Nick Krall look to secure the services of a wily veteran to stablize the backend of the rotation? If so, who should the Reds target?

1. The Reds could sign veteran RHP Johnny Cueto

Now, come on, who wouldn't want to see this, right? All kidding aside, while Johnny Cueto is nowhere near the caliber pitcher he was during his tenure with the Cincinnati Reds all those years ago, the right-hander can still spin it.

Cueto, fresh off a tremendous showing with the Chicago White Sox in 2022, signed a free agent deal with the Miami Marlins last offseason. It seemed like wise investment on the part of the Marlins' front office. The year prior, Cueto posted a 3.35 ERA and covered 158 innings.

But 2023 was not Cueto's year. The right-hander started just 10 games, and appeared in a relief capacity three other times during his time in South Beach. Unfortunately, Cueto won just one game and posted a 6.02 ERA.

Does a reunion with the Cincinnati Reds make sense? Possibly. The veteran would take on the role of the team's No. 5 starter, provide some mentorship to the young hurlers, and still does a great job of keeping free runners off the base paths.

There are several free agent pitchers who'd be much worse than Johnny Cueto. Provided the numbers are doable and his role is defined, adding the former Reds hurler could be a net-positive for Cincinnati heading into 2024.