Evans: Cueto Presents 'Elite Presence' in Giants Rotation - NBC Bay Area
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Evans: Cueto Presents 'Elite Presence' in Giants Rotation

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    The Giants are the first team to hand out a pair of $90 million-plus deals to free agent starters, but the spending spree didn't totally go as planned.

    Johnny Cueto was expected to get much more than the $130 million the Giants committed to Monday, but his offseason started with word that he turned down about $120 million from the Diamondbacks. When that became the price range, the Giants pounced.

    They met with Cueto's representatives at the Winter Meetings last week and announced a six-year deal that includes an opt-out for Cueto after two years. That provision could be the key to the deal. Cueto is guaranteed $46 million during those two seasons, and if he opts out he will have lived up to the on-field expectations the Giants have for him.

    "For Johnny to be able to get in essence another opportunity on the market in a couple years ... I think that was attractive to him and at some level was satisfying to him and us," general manager Bobby Evans said. "He's somebody that we've admired for a long time. We've seen him in the postseason and seen him throw a lot. He's not a guy you relish facing ... You have a guy that has a chance to be an elite presence in your rotation if he's healthy and we can play good defense behind him and he uses our ballpark to his advantage."

    The health will be the key, and Cueto, who lives in the Dominican Republic, will take a physical Wednesday in San Francisco. Evans said that, from the medical info they've been given, the Giants are "very confident" that Cueto's elbow is fine.

    "Our information about his elbow was that (the MRI) was in early May and that he has come through that without any further issues," Evans said.

    Cueto was said to be healthy after a trade to the Royals, but he struggled. That may have helped the Giants bring him back to the National League, where Cueto's ERA since 2011 ranks second behind Clayton Kershaw.

    "I think (the rough second half) may have had some cause in him falling maybe below a level that he might have been had he stayed in Cincinnati and pitched the way he was," Evans said.

    The Giants will now continue their search for a left fielder, but sources indicated Monday that they don't plan to make a big splash. The Giants have just about reached their offseason spending cap, but Evans said he'll continue to look at all options.

    As for a current member of the Giants, Evans said he sees Chris Heston on the big league roster in 2016, but doesn't want to commit to a role yet. Heston likely will enter camp as the favorite to replace Yusmeiro Petit as the long reliever.

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