Johnny Cueto selected by the White Sox

The White Sox announced on Monday that they have selected the right-handed contract Johnny Cueto by Triple-A Charlotte. Cueto, who signed a minor league contract with the Sox last month, will start tonight’s game against the Royals. Infielder Danny Mendick was optioned to Charlotte in a corresponding move. Chicago’s 40-man roster is now at full capacity.

Cueto had a May 15 opt-out in his contract, so he could have become a free agent had the Sox not selected him to the big league roster. Whether Cueto officially triggered this clause yesterday is unclear – teams generally have 48 hours to add a player to the roster once an opt-out of this nature is exercised – but with Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn currently on the IL, there was a natural opening for him anyway. Cueto will earn a pro-rated $4.2 million salary now that he’s been selected for the Majors.

Through four starts in Triple-A Charlotte, the 36-year-old Cueto posted a 5.17 ERA, but the rest of his numbers were much more encouraging. The former Cy Young finalist stoked 27% of his opponents against a very strong walk rate of 6.3% – supplementing those strong K/BB numbers with a high ground ball rate of 57.1%. It’s a small sample against lesser competition, sure, but Cueto was also a generally strong arm with the Giants last season. In 114 2/3 innings with San Francisco, he notched a 4.08 ERA with a 20 percent strikeout rate and a 6.1 percent walk rate.

While Cueto still seemed like a viable option in rotational return, his market has been slow to come together this winter. Several teams have expressed interest post-lockdown – the Twins and Tigers are said to be among them. However, once opening day was within reach, the possibility of a Major League deal eventually evaporated as interested parties knew Cueto would not be ready for play on opening day. opening after searching for a suitable offer for the duration of spring training.

Cueto will still be able to earn an estimated $3.32 million under the pro-rated terms of his deal with the White Sox, and he’ll be in the Majors with just 39 days off the schedule. Depending on how he does in the beginning, there may be a long-term opportunity for him. Both Dallas Keuchel and Vince Velazquez struggled to hit ERAs north of 5.50 in their first six starts, while jimmy lambert has had its own struggles through a pair of one-off starts so far. Dylan Quit, Michael Kopech and, once healthy, Giolito and Lynn all appear to be locks for long-term rotation spots, health permitting – but fifth place in the rotation is a little less certain. Keuchel’s heavy contract may well keep him there for now, but if he continues to pitch at his current rate and Cueto is able to replicate last year’s solid form, it would be difficult for the Sox to make no change.

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