The Johnny Cueto era in San Francisco is over (for now).
The Giants declined the veteran right-hander’s club option, which would have paid him $22 million in 2022. Instead, the final season will be bought out for $5 million.
Giants decline Johnny Cueto’s $22M option— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 5, 2021
Back in 2015, Cueto signed a six-year, $130 million deal with the Giants that included a pair of options, including the one that the Giants declined on Friday.
Originally signed by the Reds as an international free agent, Cueto has gone 135-97 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and .245 OBA through parts of 14 MLB seasons.
He went 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA through 22 games in 2021, posting 7.69 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, and 1.18 HR/9 rates. However, a right elbow strain shut him down for much of September, likely adding to why San Francisco decided to cut ties.
Cueto didn’t post fantastic metrics this past season, though his walk rate did rank in the 81st percentile. His barrel rate finished better than 71 percent of MLB pitchers.
Cueto’s best fit in free agency is a contending team that is willing to pay him for the next two or three seasons. While his age negates the possibility of a long-term deal, he’ll surely want to sign for more than one year. Any contender should be open to that possibility, including the Giants, who would likely consider a reunion at a cheaper rate.