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Johnny Cueto reveals Giants weren’t interested in re-signing him after 2021

© Gary A. Vasquez | 2022 Jun 28

The Giants never gave veteran starter Johnny Cueto a call after his sixth and final season with the organization last year, the veteran pitcher said.

“No, we didn’t have any type of communication,” Cueto said Saturday. “They didn’t call me. They didn’t reach out to me.”

Cueto, 36, spent the past six seasons with the Giants. In the first of his six-year, $130 deal, he started the 2016 All-Star Game and placed sixth in Cy Young voting. In his last, at age 35, he posted a league average 101 ERA+ but was significantly less effective in the second half. The intermittent years were marred by injury and inconsistency.

Cueto’s tenure with the Giants ended unceremoniously when the club left him off the postseason roster. He learned the news over the phone, which he described as “uncomfortable.”

Cueto then went unsigned through spring training, but latched on with the White Sox for a minor league contract prorated for one year, $4.2 million for his time at the major league level. So far this season, Cueto has posted a 3.33 ERA in eight big-league starts.

It didn’t sound like there was much residual animosity between Cueto and the Giants.

“Just keep working hard to see if another team would be interested in me,” Cueto said of his reaction to SF’s disinterest.

San Francisco pivoted to signing top-of-the-rotation talent Carlos Rodón and filling the rest of the rotation with Alex Wood, Alex Cobb and Anthony DeSclafani. The Giants also took fliers on Jakob Junis — which has paid dividends — and Matthew Boyd; Cueto would have fit the latter category of signings.

Cueto was lauded for his work ethic and leadership in the clubhouse. He loved hitting and taking ground balls before games. His big personality and unconventional pitching style made him both a mentor for younger players and a fan favorite.

During Friday’s series opener, the first time Cueto’s returned to Oracle Park, the Giants showed a brief tribute video for Cueto on the big screen.

“It was an honor for me,” Cueto said. “It really was a warm welcome. I was very happy to reunite with my former teammates, with the fans. I was really happy. It was definitely an honor for me to be part of that ceremony.”

Cueto said it would have been nice to face his former team in San Francisco, but his turn in the rotation didn’t line up with this series. That means his last big act in Oracle Park of 2022 will likely be tipping his cap to Giants fans from the visitor’s dugout.

 

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