The Cincinnati Reds and their fans can breathe a sigh of relief. An MRI revealed Tuesday that starter Johnny Cueto does not have any tear or structural damage in his right elbow, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.
Cueto's last start on Sunday was skipped after the right-hander felt stiffness in his right elbow. The team order Cueto to get the MRI, and it revealed just typical inflammation.
The 29-year-old is 3-4 with a 3.03 ERA in nine starts for the Reds this season. The plan going forward is for Cueto to play catch on Wednesday, with no timetable set for his return to the rotation.
His name has been at the top of sought-after starting pitching, along with Cole Hamels. If the Reds are hoping to be able to get anything out of Cueto before he becomes a free agent this winter, he needs to bounce back from this injury and pitch well again.
The Reds have already lost Homer Bailey for the season due to Tommy John surgery. Losing their biggest trade chip could potentially jeopardize the franchise's plan in the next couple of years.
While the front office can't come out and say it, Cueto getting a clean bill of health might be more important in terms of trade value than it is winning on the field.
Teams interested in Cueto may now wait a couple of starts to see if this injury bothering Cueto really is just inflammation or if there is something more. If he is unhealthy, the Reds will see a lot of trade calls be shifted to Cole Hamels, leaving them to reshuffle the deck.
The former Cy-Young award winning won't be getting trade for peanuts, so the Reds need him to come back and be healthy. Or else they need to reevaluate, quickly.