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Johnny Cueto headed to Kansas City Royals in trade for prospects

The Royals have been great without an ace... Now they have one.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals are acquiring starting pitcher Johnny Cueto in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for prospects whose identities have not yet been announced.

Cueto, a 29-year-old righty, has been one of the very best pitchers in baseball during the last five years, with a 2.51 ERA over that span that is second only to Clayton Kershaw. Cueto finished in the NL Cy Young voting last year, and this season has has a 2.62 ERA in 130.2 innings. He's always posted a very low (meaning very good) home run rate while pitching his home games at the Great American Ball Park, where Home Run Derby records go to die. Pitching his home games at Kauffman Stadium, he might never give up a long ball. With an excellent defense behind him, he might not give up any hits either. (We'll have to wait and see on that, I suppose.)

The Royals will likely be giving up a couple good prospects in this trade, but they won't be tearing their farm system apart, because Cueto is a free agent at the end of this season. Given that Kansas City is an excellent bet to win the AL Central and have home-field advantage for as long as they last in the postseason, but have lacked an ace starting pitcher, this trade makes a world of sense for them. Given that the Reds weren't going anywhere and were going to lose Cueto this offseason, so (assuming they got players they like more than they would have liked getting a compensation pick) this is a smart move for them too.

Cueto pitched last night for the Reds, which means he won't be on the mound for any of the Tribe's games against the Royals in a series that begins tomorrow. Beyond that, the Indians were already out of the division race, this move just taps the nails in a little more securely.