The market for Johnny Cueto has become clearer in recent days, as just yesterday we learned that the Diamondbacks offered the free agent pitcher a contract for six-years valued at $120 million. While that's undoubtedly a lot of money to turn down, Jordan Zimmermann just signed a five-year deal at $110 million (which represents a higher AAV than the Dbacks offer) and Cueto is reportedly looking for a much larger payday.
Clubs in the Johnny Cueto market believe he's looking for a $140-160M payout. That's Cole Hamels-Jon Lester territory.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 30, 2015
His agent, Bryce Dixon, was also quick to assure the Diamondbacks that the rejection had nothing to do with Cueto being left off the 2012 All-Star team, which Tony La Russa was directly responsible for.
According to Jon Heyman, Cueto has "received calls of interest from the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, Cubs, and others". While there's undoubtedly significant interest in the right-hander, Heyman also notes that he's not the first choice for the aforementioned clubs.
"Cueto doesn't appear to be the first choice of that quarter of big-market teams, but with only two free-agent starters above him in the market hierarchy -- Zack Greinke and David Price -- [and] with team needs outstripping the supply, chances are he'll have other opportunities and appears inclined to wait to see what they are."
While Zimmermann signed much earlier than people expected, it doesn't appear as if Cueto will follow the same route. Aside from being a valuable pitcher in his own right, he and his agent can use the weak 2017 free agent class as leverage in negotiations.
There doesn't seem to be a time-table for when Cueto will eventually sign, but with the Winter Meetings quickly approaching, he'll likely have a few contract offers coming his way soon.