After nearly completing a trade on Saturday night, the Cincinnati Reds finally agreed to trade ace and impending free agent starting pitcher Johnny Cueto and cash considerations to the Kansas City Royals for left-handed prospect pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed. Here are the SportsZone Trade Grades for both teams:


The Reds have been in rebuilding mode all season, and with a farm system devoid of major league talent, Cincinnati’s front office was under tremendous pressure to get a better return for Cueto before losing him to free agency than they got when they traded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon this past offseason. The result is an outstanding bounty for what could amount to two months of Cueto, whose final start saw him pitch eight shutout innings in Coors Field as the trade winds swirled. Finnegan, went from being a first round pick in last year’s draft to pitching in key moments during the Royals World Series run only four months later, though the Reds look to continue his transition into a starter, why he is projected to be a possible two or three starter down the road. Lamb was one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball being missing all of 2011 and 2012 after Tommy John surgery, and after two rough years on the comeback trail, has finally flashed signs of his potential, going 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA at Triple-A Omaha. Reed is the youngest of the bunch, making 15 starts across Single-A and Double-A, but might be better suited for a relief role down the road. If you’re a Reds fan you’re sad to see Cueto go, but given the current state of the team, this is the best possible outcome (at least on paper), and the Reds might not be done, with outfielder Jay Bruce, second baseman Brandon Phillips, and pitcher Mike Leake all still likely to be traded before the 31st.


The Royals have a commanding 7.5 game lead over the second place Twins for the AL Central, winning with a solid offense, great defense, and an amazing bullpen, but since losing James Shields to free agency, the rotation has become a mixed bag, as youngsters Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura have struggled, while veterans like Edinson Volquez, Chris Young, Jason Vargas, and Jeremy Guthrie have held down the fort thus far. But with Vargas out for the season and the uncertainty that Volquez and Young can continue their solid first halves, the Royals needed an ace they could count on in a short season if they are to return to the Series. They paid a hefty cost for what will probably be a rental, as Finnegan played a big role for them last October, and Lamb has a lot of potential, but they didn’t give up their top pitching prospects in Kyle Zimmer or Sean Manaea, so it was a solid risk for what Cueto should provide the team in the second half, and in October. General manager Dayton Moore knows that playoff runs aren’t guaranteed, so he did what he had to do to give Kansas City the means to have another magical second half. This is the definition of a win-win trade.

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