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Giants’ Johnny Cueto will not opt out of contract

Johnny Cueto will remain with the Giants rather than testing the free-agent market.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Cueto has decided not to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, meaning that he’ll be under Giants control at least through the 2021 season. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports was the first to report the news on Saturday night.

When he signed a six-year, $130 million contract with the Giants prior to the 2016 season—and as recently as the middle of the 2017 campaign—it was widely believed that Cueto would opt out after this season and look to earn a bigger payday on the free-agent market. Cueto himself fueled that belief by telling reporters that he wanted to finish his career in the American League and telling The Mercury News’ Andrew Baggarly that the Giants’ clubhouse lacked an adequate Latin American presence.

But after Cueto, 31, posted a 4.52 ERA and a career-worst 1.45 WHIP over 147.1 innings, spending roughly six weeks on the disabled list with blister and forearm issues, his free-agent value dipped to the point where it obviously wasn’t going to be possible for him to earn a bigger contract this offseason.

After opting into the rest of the contract, Cueto will now earn $84 million over the next four seasons. The Giants also have a $22 million club option on Cueto for 2022 with a $5 million buyout, so Cueto will earn at least $89 million from the Giants over the remainder of the deal. San Francisco will hope that Cueto can bounce back to the form that enabled him to start the All-Star Game for the NL and finish sixth in NL Cy Young voting in 2016.

With both Cueto and Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka opting into their contracts over the past two days, the top starting pitchers on the free-agent market include Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb.