The Giants and Reds are in “active discussions” regarding right-hander Mike Leake, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Earlier tonight, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said that a Leake/Giants connection was one of the most commonly heard scenarios he heard speculated upon among rival executives (Twitter link).
The 27-year-old Leake has spent his entire career pitching in one of baseball’s best hitting environments but has rattled off two and a half seasons of solid run prevention in spite of that fact. Dating back to Opening Day 2013, Leake has a 3.54 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. Leake’s never been one to miss many bats, but he’s posted a ground-ball rate of 50.1 percent in his career and paired that ability with solid control to overcome his hitter-friendly home park. A free agent at season’s end, Leake is earning $9.75MM this year and is owed about $3.6MM over the final two months.
One would imagine that a move to the spacious AT&T Park would do wonders for Leake, who could see a nice boost to his ERA by making a drastic shift to one of the game’s more pitcher-friendly environments. Certainly, he’d provide the Giants with a regular does of quality innings; he made 64 starts in 2013-14 and totaled 406 2/3 innings in that time. He’s yet to miss a start in 2015 and is averaging 6.5 innings per game this year — an appealing benefit to a Giants rotation that has cycled through eight starting pitchers this season, only two of whom have an ERA south of 4.00. The Giants do have internal options for the rotation should injuries arise, as both Yusmeiro Petit and Ryan Vogelsong are currently in the bullpen.
From a financial standpoint, a trade to the Giants would hold extra benefit for Leake. Not only would his numbers tick upward — he’d also be ineligible to receive a qualifying offer at the end of the year, thereby increasing his appeal to interested parties in free agency.