UPDATE: Rosenthal says it’s a done deal for five years and $80 million, plus an $18 million team option for 2021.
After missing out on David Price and Jason Heyward the Cardinals are still looking to land a prominent free agent and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that they’re “close” to signing right-hander Mike Leake.
Leake is nowhere near Price’s level as an impact starter, but at age 28 he’s been a solid, durable mid-rotation starter with a 3.88 ERA in six seasons as a major leaguer, including a 3.70 ERA in 192 innings for the Reds and Giants in 2015. He also doesn’t require losing a first-round draft pick to sign, as the midseason trade from Cincinnati to San Francisco took him out of the qualifying offer mix.
He’d be a good addition to any rotation and there’s rarely such a thing as too much starting pitching depth, but it’s a little curious that the Cardinals would be interested in spending big money on a mid-level starter like Leake when they have plenty of younger, cheaper options waiting in the wings. They clearly value his consistency and durability, and perhaps they think there are tweaks to be made that could raise Leake’s mediocre career strikeout rate of 6.1 per nine innings.