Mike Leake will make his minor league debut within the next few days after the Reds chose to demote him, rather than Edinson Volquez, to open up a spot on the roster for Jose Arredondo on Saturday.
Leake, the eighth overall pick in 2009, became the first draftee to skip the minors and go straight to the majors since Oakland’s Ariel Prieto in 1995 when the Reds made him their fifth starter to begin 2010. He looked like a Rookie of the Year candidate initially, but he began struggling in August and he was eventually shut down due to right shoulder fatigue.
Leake was expected to make this year’s squad as a middle reliever, but he was put into the rotation as a result of the injuries to Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. He gave the Reds four quality starts in six tries to begin the season, but since his other two outings were awful, he had a 5.77 ERA. Recently reassigned to the pen, he allowed one run in two innings over three appearances.
Volquez looked like a strong candidate for demotion after another sloppy outing Wednesday. He’s 3-1 in eight starts, but his ERA stands at 5.74 and he’s walked 33 in 42 1/3 innings. The Reds will stick with him for now, but they do plan to use Leake as a starter in the minors, making him a candidate to step back into the rotation at the end of the month.
Arredondo is returning to the majors for the first time since 2009. He was an outstanding setup man for the Angels as a rookie in 2008, going 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA, but he struggled to a 6.00 ERA the following season and then underwent Tommy John surgery. The Angels non-tendered him after the procedure, and the Reds, knowing he’d miss all of 2010, signed him, hoping it’d pay off this year. He had a 2.30 ERA and a 21/6 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings during his rehab assignment.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.