Free agent starter Mike Leake could be on the verge of signing somewhere soon. The Cardinals are believed to be a leading suitor for him, though it’s not clear if that will be his landing spot this winter. So far, we’ve seen multiple logical destinations for Leake fall out of the picture for various reasons.
Leake reportedly would have given the D’Backs a sizable discount in order to pitch close to home in Arizona, but Tony La Russa called that match “probably unlikely” to happen after the Shelby Miller acquisition. The Giants could have moved to retain Leake, but that’s no longer a real possibility after signing two high-priced free agent starters. At this stage of free agency, the Cardinals certainly appear to be one of the best fits for the 28-year-old.
Here’s today’s look at the NL Central:
- Could the Pirates still move Mark Melancon this winter? Adam Berry of MLB.com asked Pirates GM Neal Huntington about what the Charlie Morton trade means for Melancon’s future in Pittsburgh. “We’ve never had to trade Mark,” Huntington replied. “It’s always been [a question of] if we’re better with him with us, or if we think it’s a better move for the organization to move him elsewhere, and that still applies.” In short, Berry feels that the Bucs are likely to keep Melancon, though they won’t say no if they’re blown away with the perfect offer.
- The free agent market has shifted to a tier including the likes of Mike Leake, Scott Kazmir, Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy, and Wei-Yin Chen, but the Cardinals are only really interested in the first two because of their aversion to giving up a draft pick, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Between Leake and Kazmir, the Cards are probably more interested in Leake. Leake is younger, has proven himself to be a strong pitcher in the NL, and has been one of the best hitting pitchers in the league as well. Leake batted quite well early in his career, and while he had his worst season at the plate in 2015, he’s an overall .212/.235/.310 hitter in the Majors. That’s obviously not good, relative to the rest of the league, but it’s not bad for a pitcher.
- Do the Cardinals really need to sign a pitcher to anything more than a one-year deal given the arms they already have in-house? Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com says the Cardinals feel that you can never have too much pitching and therefore they are not ruling out a multi-year deal for a strong starter. The Cardinals could find themselves with a pitching logjam in 2017 thanks, in part, to Lance Lynn’s return, but the Cards are also aware that Lynn and Jaime Garcia will be free agents after that season. It might make sense for the Cardinals to deal with a bit of a logjam in ’17 in order to have options beyond that campaign.