SAN FRANCISCO — Johnny Cueto smiled Sunday afternoon when asked about his future. Will he be a Giant next year?
“I don’t know. Maybe,” he said. “I’m sure I will.”
That’s been a good bet for several months, and Sunday did nothing to change the math. Cueto gave up 12 hits and four runs over five innings of his final start, and he finished the season with a 4.52 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. It was by just about any measure the worst season of Cueto’s career, and it included constant battles with blisters as well as a flexor tendon scare.
After a season like that, it’s just about impossible to imagine a 31-year-old pitcher opting out of the final four years and $84 million of his deal. That money won’t be waiting on the market. So, why didn’t Cueto inform the Giants of his decision before leaving town? Perhaps it’s because he’s hoping he still has some leverage.
Cueto said his agent, Bryce Dixon, would talk to general manager Bobby Evans. The Giants believe he would like to negotiate in some respect, whether that’s adding something to the deal or perhaps discussing the 2022 club option that costs $22 million. A team source said Sunday that the front office is not inclined to change any of the language of Cueto’s current deal. They want him to make a decision based on the deal he signed, and push comes to shove, you can bet Cueto will be back.
“Of course I would like to be back,” he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I feel like we have a winning team.”
Nick Hundley feels the same way, and he’ll have a different type of decision to make. The veteran signed a $2 million deal in January to back up Buster Posey and ended up playing in 101 games. He hit nine homers and 23 doubles, earned praise from the pitching staff, and won the Willie Mac Award.
“I love it here,” Hundley said. “I love these guys. Playing with these guys has been a pleasure every day. It’s a wonderful place to live and play, and the opportunity to win the World Series here is as great as in any place in the league. If everything works out, I’d love to be back.”
Hundley, 34, said the decision will be one made by his family. He has young kids and said he wants them to be comfortable. Asked about playing time and the possibility that he would get offered a starting job elsewhere, Hundley said he’ll deal with that decision when the time comes.
“There are a lot of factors that go into it,” he said. “There are a lot of unknowns.”