You probably should have seen this coming. I didn't because I'm a fool, but you probably should have seen from miles away. After finishing second or third for all of the nine-figure free agents they've pursued since Barry Zito, they're apparently chasing the nine-figure free agent who doesn't really have anyone else chasing him. Can't finish second to yourself.
And that's how we have the strongest Johnny Cueto rumor yet.
I had to stop my Hector Sanchez feature to get this hot, hot rumor. You might remember Cueto as the #1 pitcher on my list of free agents the Giants should avoid. His jump in innings from 2013 to 2014 was followed with a second-half decline that was almost too predictable. He's the pitcher likeliest to get the modern-day equivalent of Zito money while giving the Giants exactly as much immediate production.
Here's something that I tend to overlook too often, though: Cueto's been really good in his career. Really, really, really good. Did you catch the part where he finished 2014 with a 2.25 ERA and 242 strikeouts? That was while pitching half of his games at Great American Ballpark, mind you. And he was excellent in the first half last year, so maybe we're overreacting to a dozen starts or so. That's rarely a smart idea.
On the other hand, this is the move. This is how the Giants will spend the newfound savings from Joe Panik and Matt Duffy. This is the big splash for the next few years. They would pay Jeff Samardzija and Cueto a combined $250 million or so, and I'm not sure if either one of them will be good next year, much less by the end of their deal.
Do not take this rumor lightly. That's Ken danged Rosenthal up there, and he's not dropping a "source." That's sources, plural.
The rumor makes sense for a team that has money to spend and keeps getting rebuffed. Here's a pitcher with ace potential who doesn't have enough suitors to buff at the moment. So I'll just go ahead and prewrite this sucker, while you hang out here freaking out.