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Johnny Cueto Joins White Sox On Minor-League Deal

Addressing starting pitching concerns, the White Sox signed veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto to a minor-league deal.

Johnny Cueto Chicago White Sox
Photo: MLB.com

The Chicago White Sox have signed starting pitcher Johnny Cueto to a minor-league deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jeff Passan of ESPN reports the deal is worth $4.2 million prorated for days spent at the MLB level.

The addition of Cueto isn’t all that surprising considering the White Sox’s recent pitching developments. Lance Lynn suffered a partial ligament tear in his right knee Saturday and will be out until the “middle of the season.” That news is a huge blow to an already thin pitching staff on the South Side. Lynn was arguably the White Sox’s best starter in 2021 after matriculating to Chicago in a trade for Dane Dunning.

Lynn’s injury, Dallas Keuchel’s struggles, and the innings restrictions for Michael Kopech create a lack of quality starting pitching. Not to mention the departure of Carlos Rodon, who signed with the Giants this offseason. The back end of the pitching rotation — prior to the Cueto signing — consisted of Reynaldo Lopez and Vince Velasquez, two names that inspire very little confidence.

The White Sox tried to address this situation via a trade for former Oakland A’s starter Sean Manaea but failed to reach an agreement. Now, Cueto likely provides an upgrade over Lopez and Velasquez and also protects the Sox from any future injury issues.

The Crafty Veteran

Johnny Cueto spent the last six seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He signed a six-year, $130 million contract in 2016, the year after he was part of the World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

The veteran right-hander pitched admirably for the Giants in 2021. Cueto posted a 4.08 ERA across 114.2 innings in 21 starts. He also brings eight games of playoff total experience in addition to World Series pedigree from his time in Kansas City.

Outlook

Johnny Cueto is in the twilight of his career and no longer maintains the All-Star form he once employed. However, he showed with Giants last year that he is still capable of positively impacting a competitive team. He aided the back end of San Francisco’s staff with 21 starts as the team recorded 107 wins en route to a division title.

If Cueto can replicate his 2021 performance, the Chicago White Sox will have solidified their pitching depth — all while not having to trade away any significant prospects to do so.

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