The San Francisco Giants' upgraded rotation is taking shape, with the 2014 World Series champions agreeing Monday with Johnny Cueto on a $130 million, six-year contract.
Cueto is set to join a rotation led by left-hander Madison Bumgarner and new addition righty Jeff Samardzija, who was introduced Friday after formalizing his $90 million, five-year contract — one week after the team lost out to the Diamondbacks on Zack Greinke.
Cueto's deal was pending a physical, the team said, and contains a team option for 2022. He is likely to be introduced later this week at AT&T Park.
Under the agreement, Cueto can opt out after the 2017 season and become a free agent again. He is due to earn $46 million before the opt out. That opt out would make Cueto free agent in November 2017 and avoid November 2018, when Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez and David Price all could be on the market.
A 29-year-old right-hander, Cueto went 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA in 32 starts for Cincinnati and Kansas City, which acquired him in a trade July 26. He was 4-7 for the Royals in the regular season and 2-1 in the postseason, including pitching a two-hitter that gave Kansas City a 2-0 World Series lead over the New York Mets.
Joining Bumgarner, Cueto and Samardzija are Matt Cain will be Jake Peavy or Chris Heston, who pitched a no-hitter last season as a rookie.
Samardzija agreed Dec. 5. less than a day after Greinke joined NL West rival Arizona on a $206.5 million, six-year contract. He is eager to help the Giants compete for another championship in an even year — 2016 — after San Francisco captured titles in 2010, '12 and '14. The team missed the playoffs last season.
Earlier that first week of December, David Price received a $217 million, seven-year contract from the Red Sox.
Now, Cueto is the latest big-name free agent pitcher to land a large contract.
Samardzija appreciates how these pitchers who work every fifth day are being rewarded.
"It's not easy what we do. I think a lot of it from afar is simple, right, you see it on TV, it goes over a plate," he said. "Eight other guys catch it, whoop de do. I challenge anybody that wants a slice of what Price made, or a slice of what Greinke made to come on out and throw a ball over the plate at 96 mph to Carlos Beltran and see what happens. It's a tough sport."