MLB Betting: Who Will Get Johnny Cueto?
One of the challenges with betting on World Series futures is the MLB trade deadline – or deadlines, in this case. Teams have until July 31 to trade players without having to put them on waivers first. They can still make deals up until August 31, provided the players in question clear waivers. Actually, teams can keep dealing after that, but anyone acquired after August 31 is ineligible for the postseason.
That first deadline is the most important, and it’s only two weeks away. Teams who want to make a playoff push are scrambling to add talent. This year, the top prize up for grabs appears to be Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto (3.06 FIP). USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale has identified the following three teams as being the “most aggressive” in their pursuit of Cueto.
Kansas City Royals (52-34, +16.85 units)
Kansas City heads into the second half of the season with the best record in the American League. However, the Royals rank No. 16 in the majors in pitching at 7.0 WAR. Their starting rotation is of particular concern, but help is on the way with or without Cueto. Jason Vargas (3.84 FIP last year) and Kris Medlen (3.48 FIP with Atlanta in 2013) are both rehabbing in the minors and could be called up before the month is out. That won’t necessarily stop the Royals from adding Cueto, though, especially with Medlen trying to come back from Tommy John surgery.
Houston Astros (49-42, +4.58 units)
The Astros were one of the biggest surprises of the first half, but their rocket is already running out of gas – Houston dropped six straight games before the All-Star break. Getting Scott Feldman (4.06 FIP) back into the starting five on Saturday will help; Feldman missed the last six weeks of action with a torn meniscus in his right knee. But Cueto would be an upgrade over Feldman, and would give Houston a strong 1-2-3 playoff rotation alongside Dallas Keuchel (2.82 FIP) and Collin McHugh (4.00 FIP), with breakout curveball artist Lance McCullers (2.58 FIP) waiting in the wings.
Toronto Blue Jays (45-46, –4.88 units)
Nobody could use Cueto’s services more than the Blue Jays. They already have the best hitting in the American League at 17.0 WAR, but their pitching ranks No. 22 overall at 5.8 WAR, and it’s been an area of concern since Marcus Stroman (2.84 FIP last year as a rookie) tore his ACL during spring training. Mark Buehrle (3.90 FIP) and Drew Hutchison (3.65 FIP) have pitched quite well, but RA Dickey (5.14 FIP) has not. The Jays have more than enough prospects to put together an enticing trade package, and they might also be in the market for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman (1.71 FIP). At press time, Toronto is +400 to win the AL East, and could be a worthwhile value pick with just 4.5 games to make up on the New York Yankees (+140).
Looking for a reputable site to bet sports online? Get independent sportsbook reviews from a fellow sports bettor, here.