Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

johnny cueto righty redsThe Giants’ deal with Johnny Cueto is reportedly done at six years and $130 million, and, importantly, features an opt-out after just the second year (ESPN). It’s not much more than he turned down from the Diamondbacks ($120 million over six years), but he did do better for himself. Plus, with the opt-out in place for after the 2017 season, he could cash in even bigger in a weaker market at age 31 if he shows consistent success over the next two years.

Cueto was always an odd bird in free agency, not netting the most attention despite being one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last half-decade. Maybe it was the mild arm concerns or the ugly stint in the AL or his size or a combination of all of those things. Whatever the case, it never quite felt like his pursuit resembled that of a guy whose ERA was under three in four of the past five seasons.

On that point, of course, we know that ERA, in isolation, is not always a helpful stat for predicting future performance, and Cueto’s peripherals have never matched the ERA. Eno Sarris gets into that with an interesting read here, and wonders if Cueto is a guy who simply can do things that make his ERA best his peripherals consistently.

Widening the scope, the implications of Cueto heading to the Giants are rather significant, as the team may have¬†essentially replaced a near-replacement-level pitcher – whomever it might be, as the back of their rotation was looking to be very ugly without a shocking bounce-back from someone like Matt Cain, or a surprise turnaround from Chris Heston (who was brutal in the second half). Cueto, then, could easily add three wins, himself, to the Giants’ win total in 2016.

For a team that was competitive most of the year in 2015 and wound up winning 84 games, that’s an enormously important boost on the win curve. Not only will that help them keep up with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks out West, it could move up the floor in the Wild Card race. That is of obvious potential consequence to the Cubs.

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