Johnny Cueto was not himself in his last start. Cincinnati's ace only tossed four innings while walking six and striking out a pair. The Reds were reportedly waiting until after the All-Star Game to sell major pieces, but according to ESPN's Jayson Stark, dealing Cueto now could be challenging.
Asked an exec of a team interested in Johnny Cueto if they saw anything to be alarmed about in his start Sunday. He said: "Yes. Everything."— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 21, 2015
While the initial response was the rough outing would not have a notable effect on his trade value, Cueto's struggles could lead some clubs to explore other options. It appears Cueto is healthy, but that is not necessarily true. If Cueto is injured, Cole Hamels likely becomes the first big name starter to be dealt. But if there is truly something wrong with Cueto, which there very well might not be, Miami's starting pitchers will likely become more valuable over the next week.
Although the Marlins have not yet publicly made their deadline plans clear, the club is expected to make deals to ensure stability beyond 2015. Such deals likely involve trading impending free agents, which Dan Haren and Mat Latos are. If Cueto is not viewed as a top target, Miami's starters might be targeted by contending clubs. The Dodgers and Astros are among the clubs interested in starting pitching.
Haren, 34, has posted a 3.46 ERA and 4.31 FIP over 117.0 innings. He has made 19 starts and has proven to be durable option in the middle of Miami's rotation. Since the Dodgers are paying a significant portion of his salary, the Marlins might not be determined to move him. Latos has posted a 4.90 ERA over 75.1 innings and tossed seven scoreless innings against Arizona on Tuesday night. He could likely help the middle of a club's rotation and might not cost a lot in terms of prospects because he would just be a rental-type player.
Tom Koehler and Brad Hand have also drawn interest, however since both are controllable pieces, the Marlins are not likely to deal either.
Miami is expected to be somewhat active before the deadline, and given their pitching depth, a starter or two might be dealt. If there is an issue with Cueto, the Marlins will likely have an opportunity to raise the price.