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.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Pirates will sign reliever Felipe Rivero to a four-year contract extension that includes two club options. The total value of the deal is believed to be $22 million and each club option is worth $10 million.
Rivero, 26, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility ahead of last Friday’s deadline. He requested a $2.9 million salary for the 2018 season while the Pirates countered at $2.4 million. This extension will cover all four years of Rivero’s arbitration eligibility and the two club options can cover his first two years of free agency as well.
Rivero was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, finishing with 21 saves, a 1.67 ERA, and an 88/20 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Nationals along with minor leaguer Taylor Hearn ahead of the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline in the Mark Melancon deal.
Presumably, Rivero’s extension was in the works before he knew anything about the Andrew McCutchen trade. He made a couple of tweets following this afternoon’s news. In one, he used only the “facepalm” emoji. The other was a .gif of The Office character Jim Halpert yelling, “What is going on?”