NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- While there's nothing to indicate the Cardinals are making a push to sign Johnny Cueto, the bitter history between the club and longtime Reds right-hander doesn't appear to be the reason.
Cueto was involved in an infamous brouhaha between the Cardinals and Reds in 2010 that was sparked by a tap from Brandon Phillips' bat and Yadier Molina's reaction to it. With players from both teams scuffling behind home plate, Cueto, feeling pinned up against the backstop, began kicking. His cleats left Chris Carpenter with a permanent scar and ended the career of catcher Jason LaRue, who sustained a concussion.
Nevertheless, Cueto's agent, Bryce Dixon, described the idea of Cueto joining the Cardinals as a "good marriage" during an interview with MLB Trade Rumors from the Winter Meetings on Wednesday.
"Obviously [Johnny] regrets how the fight went down," Dixon said. "He's expressed regret over it in the past. He loves pitching in the NL Central. He's the best pitcher of our era in the NL Central. It would be a good marriage [between] Johnny and the Cardinals. I think once the fans got past the fight and they saw what a gamer Johnny is and what he could bring to the team, I think they would be able to embrace him now, though I don't think that they'll do that overnight."
"Johnny's best friend is Brayan Pena. Johnny would love to pitch to him and a catcher like [Yadier] Molina, so I think it would be a good fit. Whether the Cardinals step up with the necessary resources, that remains to be seen. But he has no problem towards the Cardinals and the manager of that [2010 Cardinals] team [Tony La Russa] is with the Diamondbacks organization now. He came down and met Johnny and they had no problem. It's in the past. It's unfortunate that it happened, but on our side, we've moved on."
The Cardinals, who were outbid by the Red Sox in their pursuit of David Price, are still eyeing an addition for their rotation. As for Cueto, his market is unclear after he reportedly turned down a six-year, $126 million offer from the D-backs. Cueto continues to seek a lucrative multiyear deal, but Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said earlier this week that he has turned his attention to pitchers who wouldn't require such a steep commitment in terms of dollars and length of contract.
But what if they were to change course and want to pursue arguably the best free-agent pitcher still available? Would that 2010 incident be a deterrent? Mozeliak, pointing out that only three players (Molina, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday) remain from that Cardinals club, essentially said no.
"It was not something that I've thought much about, in terms of what that interaction would look like," Mozeliak said. "I think if our club thought they were getting better, they'd find a way to mend fences. It's not like it was yesterday."