The St. Louis Cardinals and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake have agreed to a five-year deal worth $80 million reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The deal has a mutual option that could push the deal in the $93-94 million dollar range. Rosenthal reports the deal also includes a full no-trade clause.
Source: Leake deal is five years, $80M with mutual option that could increase total value to $93M/$94M range.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 22, 2015
Leake was the best remaining pitcher on the free agent market, and St. Louis, who have been shut out in free agency thus far this offseason, needed to address their rotation. They lost John Lackey to the Chicago Cubs and Lance Lynn will be out the entire season following Tommy John surgery, so the club was in desperate need of starting depth.
The 28-year-old Leake is an average middle of the rotation starter. He posted solid numbers with the Reds in 2015, going 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA and 3.94 FIP. Leake was traded to the San Francisco Giants in late July for a pair of prospects and went 2-5 with a 4.07 ERA and a 4.83 FIP while dealing with a strained hamstring that saw him land on the DL.
Leake doesn’t throw particularly hard, reaching the low 90’s with his fastball – a pitch he threw much less of in 2015. According to Fangraphs, he threw less fastballs (14.4% in 2014 to 5.5% in 2015) and more knuckle curves (0.5% to 13.5%). He’s not going to strike out a ton of batters, posting a career low 5.6 K/9 last year while also giving up 22 home runs, but Leake doesn’t walk many batters (2.3 BB/9). With a 4.21 career FIP, he’s exactly what you’d expect from a number three starter.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 22, 2015
Now, the $16 million per season may seem like a high number, and it is, but it’s what a pitcher like Leake costs in this free agent market. He joins a rotation which features Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia and Tyler Lyons.
Who knows, maybe the Cardinals can rub some magic Cardinals dust on him and he’ll turn into an ace.