SAN FRANCISCO -- Throughout the second half of a disappointing season, Johnny Cueto hinted that he would return to the Giants. On Saturday it became official.
Cueto declined to opt out of a six-year contract that he signed in December of 2015, locking him into the final four years, per a source. According to the original terms of his deal, Cueto had three days after this year's World Series to opt out and become a free agent. The deadline passed at 9 p.m. Saturday. The Giants now owe him $21 million in each of the next four seasons, with a $22 million club option in 2022 that includes a $5 million buyout.
A year ago at this time, it seemed a lock that Cueto would jump back into free agency and try to hit a bigger payday. A lot has changed since then, for Cueto and the Giants.
Cueto, who turns 32 during spring training, signed with the Giants after the 2015 offseason and immediately lived up to expectations with an All-Star 2016 season. The Giants always expected Cueto to test free agency after two seasons, but he dealt with blisters and flexor tendon discomfort and spent 45 games on the disabled list. When he was on the field, Cueto had just as many issues. He posted a 4.52 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 25 starts and finished his season by giving up 12 hits over five innings in the final game of the season.
When asked about his looming decision, Cueto consistently said he loves playing in San Francisco, but he never went as far as saying he would absolutely be back, noting that he needed to consult with his agent, Bryce Dixon, in October. The Giants were under the belief that Cueto wanted to tweak his contract in order to return, perhaps guaranteeing one final year, but they weren't inclined to make any changes after the season Cueto had. Ultimately, no changes were made to the original deal.