Report: Cueto a free agent after Giants decline $22M option


The Johnny Cueto era in San Francisco appears to be over ... for now. 

The Giants declined their $22 million option on Cueto for the 2022 MLB season, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Friday.

All signs pointed to the Giants parting ways with the high-priced starter after the 2021 season, and that will be the case unless Cueto were to eventually return on a new deal, likely worth a lot less money. 

In declining Cueto's option, the Giants will pay a $5 million buyout per the terms of his contract. 

Cueto initially signed a six-year, $130 million contract with the Giants in December of 2015. In six seasons with San Francisco, Cueto posted a 39-27 record with a 3.81 ERA in 614.0 innings pitched.

His best season with the Giants came in 2016 where he posted an outstanding 18-5 record with a 2.79 ERA in 219 2/3 IP. During that season, Cueto was an NL All-Star and finished sixth in Cy Young Award voting, helping lead the Giants to their first playoff appearance in two seasons. 

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018, Cueto returned to the mound towards the end of the 2019 season. He struggled throughout the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, and sustained an elbow injury that shortened his 2021 season.

Throughout his time with the Orange and Black, Cueto was a beloved member of the Giants who brought joy to the game of baseball with his antics on the mound and his personality in the clubhouse.

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