Suddenly flush with capable rotation options, the Reds have decided to move Mike Leake to the bullpen in order to keep the 22-year-old rookie’s innings count in check.
Leake went 7-1 with a 3.45 ERA through his first 18 starts after the 2009 first-round pick skipped the minors completely to crack the Opening Day rotation, but he’s 1-3 while allowing 21 runs in 21 innings over his last four outings.
Dusty Baker indicated that the move is a temporary one, but declined to provide any sort of timetable for Leake’s return to the rotation:
This way we can see where we are. It doesn’t take him long to get loose. We can monitor his innings. It shouldn’t be a horrible transition. It depends. It depends on how far we go into September and hopefully into October.
Baker is known for being very tough on young pitchers, so it’s good to see him buying into the idea of easing Leake’s workload down the stretch. Even with Leake now a reliever the Reds still have a rotation that includes Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez, Travis Wood, Homer Bailey, and Johnny Cueto, and they’re expected to get Aaron Harang back from the disabled list soon as well.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.