KANSAS CITY -- Finally, after almost a day of speculation, the Royals completed a trade for Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto on Sunday.
The deal was announced during the third inning of the Royals' 5-1 win over the Astros: Cueto and cash considerations to Kansas City for left-handers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed.
Cueto, 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA, could help shore up a rotation which has wobbled much of the season because of injuries and ineffectiveness. Last week, the Royals lost left-handed starter Jason Vargas for the season due to an elbow injury.
Cueto said he will join the team on Tuesday in Cleveland. Royals manager Ned Yost said Cueto, who pitched on Saturday, likely will stay on his fifth day, meaning he could start on Thursday in Toronto.
"Probably, yeah," Yost said. "But this just happened. I'll sit down with [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland] and discuss it on the plane [to Cleveland].
Cueto seemed eager to join his new team where he'll be reunited with former Reds teammate Edinson Volquez.
"They do have a great team," Cueto said. "I'm excited about my next chapter. I know they play very good baseball. I'm excited because I know it's going to be good for my career and good for the team."
The deal seemed to have many ups and downs starting on Saturday, Yost said.
"When I talked to [general manager] Dayton [Moore] before the game," Yost said, "we weren't sure something would get done."
Moore acknowledged the same.
"When you're competing to acquire talent, it's very competitive," Moore said. "These things go back and forth. We were trying to put the best deal we could in front of [Reds general manager] Walt [Jocketty]."
Finally, around 1:50 p.m. CT, Jocketty called Moore and asked if he was ready to move forward with the proposal. Moore said yes.
That deal included Finnegan, who was the Royals' top pick in last year's MLB Draft and has been up and down between the Minors and the big league club all season. With the Royals, he was 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA in 14 games, and he began the season as the club's No. 4 prospect.
Thanks to the Royals for all the opportunities they've given me and all the amazing fans. I will miss you all. Time for a new chapter
Lamb was once considered a top prospect in the Royals' organization until undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011. The road back has been long but Lamb emerged strong this season -- going 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA at Triple-A Omaha.
Finnegan and Lamb both were assigned to the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville.
Reed was a second-round pick in the 2013 Draft. He was 2-2 with a 3.45 ERA at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Giving up three prospects is never easy Moore said, but sometimes necessary.
"We're always motivated to make a deal if it makes sense," Moore said. "If you focus on what you're giving up or giving away, you'll never make a deal."
Moore called Cueto the team's top non-waiver Trade Deadline priority.
"I'm just glad for our team and our fans, and for Ned and the coaching staff," Moore said. "Our scouts have done a lot of work tracking every one of his starts."
To some, the acquisition of Cueto is more of a rental, considering he is eligible to be a free agent after the season and possibly out of the Royals' financial reach then. That isn't on Moore's mind right now.
"We're just focused on what we need to do today and moving forward for the rest of the season," Moore said. "We'll answer those questions later."
What Cueto already has done is give the coaching staff and clubhouse an immediate boost emotionally.
"He's a guy who gives us tremendous depth in our rotation," Yost said. "If you get Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura to the way they were a year ago, you got them and Eddie Volquez and Cueto ... you can stop a losing streak right away with any of those guys. It's a better team for now and into the postseason if we make it.
"If we didn't do this deal, I still would have felt good about this team. But this makes us better."
The Royals' 40-man roster now is at 39. They will make a corresponding move on the 25-man roster when Cueto joins the team on Tuesday.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.