The trade of pitcherJohnny Cueto from my beloved Cincinnati Reds seems inevitable.
The ace's contract expires at the end of this season and he's such a great pitcher, any long-term contract will likely be out of the Reds' reach once he enters the free agent market. The trade deadline is the end of this month and I look for the Reds to seek to get something--1 solid major leaguer and two prospects seems likeliest to me--in a trade of Cueto before or shortly after the All Star Game.
I hate that it's come to this. The Reds have had a nucleus for pennant runs for several years now. Cueto as the ace of the pitching staff has been part of this nucleus. But it seems one thing or another has always gotten in the way of post-season contention: injuries, iffy middle relief, and so on.
On top of that, Major League Baseball has been slow to adopt meaningful revenue sharing, such as exists in the NFL. The result is that the big-market teams with their big-market regional media contracts have deeper pockets and can outbid smaller-market teams like the Reds for the services of the Cuetos of the baseball world.
I can't blame phenoms like Cueto for taking advantage of free agency, a hard-earned player right that, thanks to Curt Flood, freed players from what amounted to indentured servitude to baseball teams that paid them comparative pittances. But it surely would have been nice if the Reds could have, at some point during Cueto's tenure in Cincinnati, made a run for a pennant and beyond.
Revenue sharing is essential for the competitiveness of major league baseball to be sustained and to cultivate deeper levels of loyalty from fan bases. Until that happens, the Reds and other small-market teams will routinely be bid out of contention for the established stars which their organizations may have developed but can't afford to keep.
By the way, vote for Cueto for the final fan-selected slot on the National League roster. His numbers commend him for the honor. There is no limit to how many votes you can cast. See here.