By Janie McCauley AP
SAN FRANCISCO — Johnny Cueto’s elbow checked out just fine. The dreadlocks, too.
“We did not MRI his hair,” cracked Giants general manager Bobby Evans.
Bearded reliever Sergio Romo saw Cueto before the festivities at AT&T Park on Thursday and welcomed him with some good-natured advice: Get your smile ready, because with those signature dreads you’re about to be recognized all over the Bay Area.
Cueto is ready for the attention as the Giants’ new US$130 million man, and ready to help San Francisco win another even-year World Series following titles in 2010, ’12 and ’14.
“I was calm, I wasn’t nervous, I knew I eventually was going to sign with a team,” Cueto said. “I was at home with the kids, spending time with the family and knowing God will take care of the rest.”
The right-hander was formally introduced in his new No. 47 jersey a day after passing a physical that included an MRI of his pitching elbow.
“He’s a cool cat, he’s going to help us out a lot baseball-wise,” Romo said of Cueto, noting they spoke in Spanish. “I was letting him know, ‘I got my little gimmick with the beard,’ and he’s got the gimmick with the dreads, so I go: ‘Good luck walking around not being recognized. You’re going to walk around and people are going to point at you and be, hey, Johnny, so you’d better get your smile ready.”
Cueto’s six-year deal includes an opt out after two years and US$46 million, which would include a US$5 million buyout for the 2022 season to be paid out that year. He will earn US$15 million next season and US$21 million each year from 2017-21. His US$5 million signing bonus is spread out in installments of US$1 million each Jan. 15 from 2017-21. There is US$125 million guaranteed over the first six years and a US$22 million club option for 2022 with the US$5 million buyout.
While there is not a no-trade provision, Cueto would receive a US$500,000 assignment bonus the first time he is dealt and US$1 million for each subsequent assignment. He must decide within three days of the end of the 2017 World Series whether to exercise the opt out.
On Cueto’s to-do list is meeting Dominican Republic countryman and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal.
Marichal had the high leg kick, Cueto’s motion is “la mecedora,” the rocking chair.
“We see Johnny really reinforcing our connection to the Dominican,” CEO Larry Baer said. “Johnny’s history being a great Dominican pitcher is very much in line with the Giants history.”
The pitcher received a congratulatory, welcome-to-the-team text message from catcher Buster Posey, and is considering buying a motorized scooter to commute to and from the ballpark with Hunter Pence.