The San Diego Padres whiffed on adding a reliable veteran pitcher to their mix when Nathan Eovaldi decided to spurn them in favor of signing with the Texas Rangers. The front office may decide to move their eyes closer to Johnny Cueto, per the latest buzz.
There's no doubt that Cueto, in his prime, was one of the game's best pitchers, capable of posting an ERA under 3.00 five times in a six-season span. Unfortunately, his heyday with Cincinnati has been overshadowed, to a degree, by a stint in San Francisco that was marred by injuries.
After making just 71 starts in his last five seasons with the Giants and posting a 4.38 ERA in that span, Cueto joined Tony La Russa's Chicago White Sox. Posting a 3.35 ERA, Cueto has reignited interest in him as a bak-end strating pitcher despite all of the injury concerns surrounding him.
While AJ Preller could be tempted to grab one of the few pitchers on the market who has experience eating innings and pitching at a high level, Cueto is by no means the player he once was. Even his White Sox comeback could be slightly fake.
The San Diego Padres must avoid Johnny Cueto.
On top of the fact that we have a half-decade of evidence that states Cueto is not going to be a difference-making pitcher for a team with championship aspirations, his long list of medical ailments make him a 37-year-old pitcher who can't stay healthy at the end of the day.
Cueto's fastball is well below league average in terms of velocity, and he is one of the worst pitchers in the league at generating swings and misses. All it would take is some lousy batted ball luck for his ERA to balloon and the Padres' rotation to be thrown into a state of legitamite turmoil.
The Padres appear to believe in Nick Martinez and former Mets reliever Seth Lugo as the back-end of their rotation. It's not hyperbole to say that riding with those two and Adrian Morejon as a long reliever/spot starter might give the Padres a much more productive rotation than adding a potential one-hit wonder in Cueto.
While Eovaldi would have been a pitcher starting to exit his prime, Cueto is fully out of it. With just one solid season in his last half-dozen, the Padres might not get the best immediate returns on their investment if his rebirth in Chicago turns out to be nothing more than a mirage.