The Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Houston Astros have been "most aggressive" in pursuit of Cincinnati Reds' starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Cueto is expected to be in hot pursuit over the next few weeks as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. An impending free agent this offseason, the Reds will likely want to move him and take what they can get in return.
All three teams that have shown that aggressiveness do need some starting pitching upgrades.
Outside of Edinson Volquez and Chris Young, all the Royals starting pitchers this season have ERAs over 4.50. Granted, in terms of FIP, they have been better to an extent. However, a rotation of Volquez (3.31 ERA; 3.79 FIP), Young (3.00 ERA; 4.11 FIP), Yordano Ventura (4.73 ERA; 3.89 FIP), Jeremy Guthrie (5.36 ERA; 4.80 FIP), and Danny Duffy (4.65 ERA; 4.46 FIP) likely won't do the trick down the stretch.
The Astros have two really good starters in Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, and a solid option in Collin McHugh, but other than that, their rotation could use some help. The team has been connected to many starting pitching options, including Jeff Samardzija and Cole Hamels.
Toronto is another team that is in desperate need of rotation help. As good as their offense is, their pitching staff is as bad. The Jays have scored the most runs in the American League, while their 4.18 team ERA ranks 12th. They could use a guy like Cueto to help make them a more complete team down the road.
On the season, Cueto is 6-6 with a 2.73 ERA (3.06 FIP) in 17 starts. Over his 118 2/3 innings pitched, Cueto has a 113 to 22 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Last season, he led the NL in strikeouts and finished second in the Cy Young award voting.