Aug 21, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
He wants to pitch for the Red Sox
This one may have flown under the radar a bit, but in an interview with Boston media, prior to his being unceremoniously thrashed by the Red Sox, Cueto expressed a desire to actually come to Fenway during free agency. As reported by WEEI’s Rob Bradford:
"“It depends,” said Cueto on if he would sign with the Red Sox after this season. “Because I’m a free agent, and I’m just going to pick the best choice to go. The main thing — I would like to come here because it’s a championship-caliber team.” “Yeah, that’s what I think,” he said when he believed the Red Sox might be a landing spot when trade rumors started swirling prior to this season. “I think, ‘I’ll wait for Boston.’”"
OK so his English is sketchy and he was being translated by Hanley Ramirez, but that’s pretty frank for a player who had only just joined a club already planning for a World Series run. Up until that point he had managed a pretty stellar 1.80 ERA in four starts for the Royals. After that point, he may as well have not turned up.
I’m not suggesting that Cueto didn’t show interest for the Royals based on a desire to want to play for the Red Sox, but his desire to want to pitch here is a solid advantage over the strained relationship with Price and the complicated health consequences that could arise with Greinke.
On top of that, Cueto has a lot of friends in Boston. Ramirez is joined by David Ortiz, both of whom speak his language and call him their friend. Perhaps more significantly however is the presence of Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, who was Cueto’s hero and role model growing up in the Dominican. Much of Cueto’s pitching mechanics are modeled on Pedro’s and having Pedro around as a guide, instructor and influence could bring out the best in Cueto. And Cueto’s best is pretty amazing.
Though it’s unsure at present how much contribution will come from Ryan Hanigan in 2016, he caught Cueto for years with the Reds and the two would be a familiar battery. Red Sox defensive catcher Christian Vazquez, mother tongue Spanish, would also make a solid and reliable partner.
In the end, it would make sense that Cueto would want to be at Fenway. Despite his struggles, he would still easily slot above the rest in the rotation, would have familiar and friendly faces around and have the comfort of knowing that he will be an integral part of a team that is not only aiming for a world series, but has the resources to actually make one.
Next: Fan support