Ranking the best trade targets for the 2015 Red Sox rotation

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2. Johnny Cueto

Sep 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher

Johnny Cueto

(47) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Though Mat Latos is an ace in his own right, he played second fiddle to Cueto (28) this season in Cincinnati. I am a big time proponent of taking a patient approach with pitchers with strong stuff, because not all of them hit the ground running and Cueto is another shining example of this. He debuted for the Reds in 2008, starting 31 games and got off to a rocky start, not unlike what we saw from Allen Webster this year. He pitched 178 innings his rookie year, going 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA.

His second year unfortunately only saw minor improvements (hopefully for our sake, this won’t be the case with Webster), lowering his ERA to 4.41 and pitching to a .500 record.  But he truly burst onto the scene in 2011, dealing his way to a 2.31 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 3.5 WAR. The next three seasons have seen Cueto post a sub 3.00 ERA, the type of consistency Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett dream of. A true ace, Cincinnati has a very tough decision on its hands as he enters the final year of his contract.

He is better than Latos, but will they be able to afford his eventual asking price if he continues to decimate the competition? Surely not, particularly if he can somehow replicate (surely he can’t climb any higher, right?) his numbers from this year, which earned him the nickname Johnny Beisbol – a tip of the cap to his Dominican heritage. This past season was his best yet, going 20-9, a .96 WHIP and 2.25 ERA, to go along with 242 K’s in 243 IP and a striking 6.4 WAR, finishing among the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Felix Hernandez, Hamels, and the only player ahead of him in these rankings.