Cueto will make $130 million over the six years, according to media reports, which means that he will earn an annual average value of $21.67 million. That is substantially less than what comparable starting pitchers have earned just this offseason.
Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area reported that Cueto will have an opt-out after two seasons. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that Cueto will earn $46 million ($23MM per year) in the two years prior to his opt-out after the 2017 season.
Cueto was the last elite-level starting pitcher out on the free agent market. David Price (Red Sox), Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks), and Jordan Zimmermann (Tigers) have already agreed to their respective deals, and have made anywhere from $22 to $34 million per season.
The Giants were one of many teams to show interest in Cueto throughout the offseason. It was not really known where he would end up, but many thought that after the Dodgers lost out on both Price and Greinke, they would go after him.
This afternoon, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Giants were making a strong push for Cueto.
The Giants had already put together an interesting offseason, signing Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90 million deal. Now, they went out and got Cueto. As it stands, their rotation includes Madison Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain.
Cueto, who turns 30 in February, has put together plenty of ace-like performances over the course of his career. Last year, he pitched for both the Reds and Royals. Cueto went 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA and a 176 to 46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 212 innings.
In 2014, Cueto was named an NL All-Star and finished second in the Cy Young voting after posting a 20-9 record with a 2.25 ERA and 242 to 65 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 243 2/3 innings.
The one thing that has hindered Cueto, however, is injury.
While he has pitched plenty of innings consistently, Cueto has had issues staying healthy in the past. Even last season, he dealt with elbow issues, which may have cost him millions in free agency. In 2013, he missed most of the year due to a lat (shoulder) strain.
This signing will pay off for San Francisco if Cueto stays healthy and pitches like an ace into the future. But, if he does prove he can stay healthy over the next two years, he could choose to opt-out. That is what makes this deal an interesting one and definitely benefits the player.