Do you like risk? Oh, stop shaking your head and covering your face, you love risk. And that means you're going to love the 2016 Giants if they sign Johnny Cueto for many years and much millions. If you're looking for risk, dig this quote from Jon Heyman:
The Giants and Cueto are talking about a deal that would easily best the $120-million, six-year deal Cueto turned down earlier from the Diamondbacks.
Goodness. Easily best a $20 million-per-year contract that would have lasted until he was 35? This deal is a gonna sting if it happens.
So start with the obvious: I would like Johnny Cueto on the Giants for the minimum salary. We can all agree on that one, right? And you can keep going with that logic for a while. I'd like Cueto on the Giants for one year, $1 million. Two years, $20 million. Five years, $75 million. It takes a while for the risk/reward to tip over and crush us all. We're here to figure out where that tipping point is.
Before answering, consider what it means for the Giants to spend a hundreds of millions on a pitcher. I'm not against it on principle, because I'm aghast at what baseball players make. I'm not against it because I'm scared that people will laugh at the Giants and make me feel sad. I would be against it because it would mean the Giants couldn't spend money on other players in the future. If the Giants let Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum both walk a couple years ago, they might have had enough money to finish second for David Price and Zack Greinke. In two years, we might be saying the same thing about Cueto and, dunno, Andrew McCutchen.
At the same time, there's a chance that Cueto would make the Giants significantly better next season. We're pretty sure that they'll contend next year, whereas we have no idea what the Giants will or won't need in 2017 or 2018, when Cueto's contract might prevent them from acquiring free agents. So you would be right to value the reward of Cueto next year and willing to take a little risk along with it.
The Samardzija deal? Five years and $90 million? Yeah, that would be a steal of a contract. The Jordan Zimmermann deal, which was five years and $110 million? Considering that the Giants shouldn't just be considering 2016 as their window but the following season, too, it's worth remembering that next year's free agent pitchers are a mess. Spending now prevents a huge deal with prospects later.
And if you'll do the Zimmermann deal, what's another year and $10 million among friends? The contract would be a hefty one, but it's not like that sixth year and extra money would prevent the Giants from doing a bunch. The highest-paid player on the current Giants is the fifth starter, and he's not preventing them from acquiring an expensive starting pitcher. Like, oh, Johnny Cueto.
So I could plug my nose and make peace with something like that original offer from the Diamondbacks. If Wei-Yin Chen might get $90 million, and Mike Leake might get $75 million or so, I can see spending an extra $5-10 million every season to get the high upside of a former Cy Young contender.
Read those words again, though: "would easily best the $120 million offer." Easily. It's ... more. A lot more.
And then you're reminded that free agency is designed to make you, general managers, and owners uncomfortable. This is going to be a stunning offer. The cost of missing out on Zack Greinke might be spending less money but on a riskier proposition.
All I want is a season of brilliance, and we can revisit the deal after that. Gimme the Cueto of old with a healthy 2016 Giants lineup, and worry about 2020 when it gets here. My biggest issue is I have no idea what the odds are the Giants will see the Cueto of old. I would pay a lot to find out. But I wouldn't pay as much as the Giants are reportedly willing to, and I'm terrified about their ability to build a roster over the next few years.
Giants are making progress on an agreement with Johnny Cueto. Could reach a deal soon.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 14, 2015
Well, hey now, gotta go and write a bunch of words about Johnny Cueto, gaaaaaaah.