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There is no doubt surprisingly one of the Royals biggest question marks this year is their starting pitching.
Injuries, inconstancy, and even suspensions have proven this rotation to be far from solid. The rotation has vastly changed since the start of the season in April due to these struggles. With injuries plaguing many of the starters including fiery young Yordano Ventura who rarely finished a game without some sort of cramp or tightness for the first half of the season with a stint on the DL, along with struggling to produce reliable quality starts in the games he did pitch.
Also usually steady Danny Duffy, who started out well, began to consistently struggle in his starts before finally being placed on the DL. Even Edison Volquez our recently acquired veteran pitcher, who has been one of our most reliable pitchers, has missed a couple of starts or left games early due to injuries.
Then there is Jason Vargas who has just been ruled out of the rest of the season needing Tommy John surgery, but even before this Vargas was rotating on and off the DL constantly. Given this rotation situation it is not hard to understand why the Royals front office, which has proven that they are in a “championship mindset,” would be looking to acquire better starting pitching before the end of the trade deadline.
Currently it would seem that the pitcher the Royals are most heavily interested in is Cincinnati Red’s ace Johnny Cueto, Cueto is in his final year of his contract and would be an end of the year rental for whoever trades for him. Cueto has pitched very well this year with a 2.79 ERA and 115 strikeouts so far this season, in comparison the most K’s by a single player on the Royals roster right now is 91 and the lowest ERA is 3.03.
The argument against signing Cueto is that spending high dollars and/or giving up future prospects for a rent-a-player likely to move on at the end of his contract is not worth it. People who think this might say that there is no need to go after such an expensive starting pitcher, and he is not necessary to finish off the regular season on top due to the great position the Royals have put themselves in to win the division already.
This is true, the Royals are a remarkable 21 games over .500, and by winning only half their games down the stretch to end the season they would still reach over 90 wins. It is true the Royals probably can manage to scrape by and walk in to the post season winning the AL central with their current rotation, but who wants to rely only on the hope that your division lead is large enough that you can win even without playing your best baseball.
Also a pitcher like Cueto would not only be greatly valuable to begin healing our inconsistent rotation, but it would add an ever so needed ace on the roster in the playoffs. Seriously though, who on our pitching rotation currently would you definitely want to start Game 1 of a postseason series in October, Cueto would definitely provide that formidable #1 starter for the Royals that has been in limbo for them since the season began.
So the fact is, that the Royals aren’t in dire need of Cueto to plug the gaps and take them to the playoffs, but without a pitcher like Cueto the Royals just might not have all the tools to defend their turf as American League Champions. Those who believe this deal is not worth it also probably will say that trading your future for a rental player is not worth it, because the player you’re trading for will not be there long enough for the trade to pay off.
There is something to this thought, but again the Royals front office are executing in a championship mindset doing whatever it takes to find a way to win NOW not later. Let’s face it the Royals don’t have an unlimited amount of time with this team to achieve that elusive World Series crown, Cueto could just be the staple this team needs heading into the playoffs to be poised for another shot at more than just an American League Pennant. Cueto will not be cheap and purchasing him most likely will not come without sacrificing some future prospects, but you can’t hold onto to your cards forever, and if the price is right Cueto should be a great fit into this Royals organization no matter how brief it may be.
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