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Blue Jays, Padres among clubs scouting Johnny Cueto

Twenty clubs were in attendance at Cueto's last start, according to a report.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Twenty scouts were in attendance to see Reds' starter Johnny Cueto pitch against the Giants on Thursday night, according to a report from Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News. Among them were high-ranking officials from the Blue Jays and Padres, signaling that those two teams could be among the most aggressive buyers as the league approaches its July 31 trade deadline.

Cueto, who allowed two earned runs while striking out nine in seven innings on Thursday, may be one of the most coveted available starters at the deadline, along with Phillies' southpaw Cole Hamels, and potentially, Athletics' lefty Scott Kazmir. The 29-year old Cueto is a free agent after the season and is not negotiating in season with the Reds, who may not have the resources to re-sign him when he hits the open market this winter.

MLB trade deadline draws ever closer

After struggling to start the season, Cincinnati currently sits in third place in the NL Central with an 18-17 record, meaning that they could decide to try to make one more playoff run with Cueto as their ace. If they are out of the race, it is considered likely that they will try to deal the righty, with plenty of teams lining up to try to add Cueto as a two-month rental for the stretch run.

Toronto and San Diego could both be aggressive buyers at the deadline, so their early interest in Cueto makes sense more than two months before July 31. Though the Jays are currently under .500 in fourth place in the AL East, the division is considered a wide-open race in which all five teams could look to add pieces in July.

San Diego is currently sitting in second behind the Dodgers with a record of 19-17, and is known as one of the most aggressive teams in all of baseball in terms of making moves with immediate impact after an offseason in which they added Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Craig Kimbrel, Derek Norris and James Shields.