The Cincinnati Reds continued a solid offseason today, avoiding arbitration with pitcher Johnny Cueto with a four-year, $27 million contract.
Cueto, 24, was one of the Reds' best pitchers last season, setting a career high for wins (12) and innings (185.2). Cueto finished the regular season a 3.64 ERA and a team-high 138 strikeouts.
In signing Cueto, the Reds have locked up yet another promising young player. Earlier this offseason, the Reds signed outfielder Jay Bruce to a six-year, $51 million deal and first baseman Joey Votto for three years and $38 million.
The Reds have been able to keep their NL Central winning team almost entirely intact while adding quality veteran bats.
The hero of the San Francisco Giants and last year's World Series MVP, Edgar Renteria was brought in on a one-year, $3 million contract, Fred Lewis signed a one-year, $900k deal and Jeremy Hermida received a minor-league contract for 2011.
All in all, it's been a very solid offseason for the Reds. Keeping last year's best offensive team in the National League, as well as a solid starting pitching staff together was the best move the Reds made.
To keep that rotation together, the Reds also exercised their $11 million option on Bronson Arroyo, and then added two years and $23.5 million.
The Reds also have the luxury of having the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, Aroldis Chapman ready to take the ball in 2011.
Chapman, the sixth ranked prospect in baseball, throws harder than anyone in the game, able to regularly hit triple digits on the radar gun.
In 15 appearances last season, Chapman posted a 2.03 ERA with 19 strikeouts in just 13.1 IP. His mark of 12.83 K/9 is outrageous. He could fit in as a young, powerful starter or a lights out closer of the future.
The Reds were the best offensive team last season, leading the NL in every major offensive category, and were tied for the best fielding percentage as well. That same team, as well as some quality additions, will take the field in 2011 and defend their Central crown.
Reds fans have a lot to look forward to next season, and on top of it all, it could be a Red October.