KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals are hoping Johnny Cueto can help them win one more playoff game than they did a year ago.
The Royals acquired Cueto in a trade with Cincinnati on Sunday, sending three prospects to the Reds for a legitimate ace for the front of their beleaguered rotation.
Kansas City has the best record in the American League after it lost to the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the World Series last October. But Yordano Ventura has under-performed this year and Jason Vargas will miss the rest of the season after he injured his elbow last week — increasing the need for pitching help.
Cueto, who is eligible for free agency after the season, had spent his entire career with Cincinnati. But the fourth-place Reds are looking to the future and could trade several more significant pieces before Friday’s non-waiver deadline, including right-hander Mike Leake and All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman.
Cincinnati got minor league left-handers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed in the trade for Cueto, who was one of the top starters on the market.
Finnegan was selected by the Royals in the first round of last year’s draft. He made seven playoff appearances in 2014, but has split time between Triple-A Omaha and Kansas City this year.
The 25-year-old Lamb, a fifth-round pick in 2008, is 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 17 starts for Omaha.
Cueto won 20 games last season and is 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 19 starts this year. He pitched eight scoreless innings in Cincinnati’s 5-2 victory against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
The right-hander made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 2008 and is 92-63 with a 3.21 ERA in eight seasons.
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