Cardinals are “looking closely” at Mike Leake, Diamondbacks said to have advantage

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Mike Leake may be the next domino to fall on the starting pitching market.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Cardinals are “looking closely” at the free agent right-hander ahead of this week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. There’s also said to be mutual interest between Leake and the Diamondbacks, who just signed Zack Greinke to a massive six-year, $206 million deal.

Leake makes his offseason home in Arizona and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says that could give the D’Backs an edge if the money is close.

Returning to San Francisco remains another option for Leake, though Jeff Samardzija‘s $90 million contract probably makes that a little more unlikely. That team still wants to add a bat.

Leake, 28, posted a solid 3.70 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 119/49 K/BB ratio in 192 innings (30 starts) this summer between the Giants and Reds. He owns a 3.59 ERA (105 ERA+) in 598 2/3 innings since the beginning of the 2013 season.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.