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Best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s: 20. Johnny Cueto

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 22: Johnny Cueto #47 of the San Francisco Giant pitches in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 22: Johnny Cueto #47 of the San Francisco Giant pitches in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Johnny Cueto has missed significant time since joining the San Francisco Giants, but his 2016 season was one of the franchise’s best single-season pitching performances of the decade.

The San Francisco Giants signed Johnny Cueto to a six-year, $130 million deal prior to the 2016 season that includes a $22 million club option for 2022 with a $5 million buyout.

“You have a guy that has a chance to be an elite presence on your staff,” general manager Bobby Evans told reporters after the signing.

Following an excellent run with the Cincinnati Reds, Cueto joined the Kansas City Royals at the 2015 deadline and helped them win a World Series title.

He was signed shortly after the Giants added fellow free agent Jeff Samardzija on a five-year deal.

“With these two significant additions we made, it gives us a balance of five guys who can give us the starts and innings we need to protect our bullpen and give us the best chance to compete for the division [title],” Evans told reporters. “That’s the goal.”

In his first season in San Francisco, Cueto went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings to finish sixth in NL Cy Young voting.

He was 13-1 with a 2.47 ERA at the All-Star break and earned the starting nod for the NL squad in the All-Star Game.

Unfortunately, he has not come close to matching those numbers in the three years since.

He had a 4.52 ERA in 25 starts in 2017 and was limited to just nine starts in 2018 before he was shelved with Tommy John surgery.

The 33-year-old is on the comeback trail and expected to return to the active roster at some point in early September.

With two years and $43.7 million left on his contract, along with the 2022 club option, the San Francisco Giants are banking on a return to form. Anything close to his brilliant 2016 season would make him a huge in-house addition.

Next. 21. Jeff Samardzija

Check back here regularly as we count down the 50 best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s.

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