Seattle and Arizona may or may not have almost come together on a trade for Mariners right-hander Mike Leake in early June. Nearly two months later, Leake remains a Mariner, but he and the team “are ready to be done with” each other, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports in a piece examining the M’s potential trade chips leading up to the July 31 deadline. Unfortunately for the Mariners and Leake, interest in the starter been “minimal” since the club discussed him with Arizona, according to Divish.
As a soon-to-be 32-year-old on a team that’s not contending now and probably won’t during the next season or two, Leake is an obvious trade candidate. Leake does have a full no-trade clause, though, which makes his apparent eagerness to leave the Mariners all the more noteworthy. That said, a willingness to waive your no-trade protection obviously doesn’t matter if teams aren’t interested in your services.
For the most part, Leake has been a steady, durable rotation piece since his career began with the Reds in 2010. Also an ex-Giant and Cardinal, Leake came into the year with a 3.99 ERA/4.11 FIP, 6.07 K/9, 2.06 BB/9 and a 50.8 percent walk rate over 264 starts and 1,627 1/3 innings. But Leake hasn’t done anything to boost his trade stock through 115 1/3 frames this year, even though he has bettered his typical strikeout/walk numbers with 6.63 K/9 against 1.4 BB/9.
Walks have been hard to come by against Leake, whereas batters haven’t had much trouble collecting hits or home runs off him. Just two starters have coughed up more hits than Leake (133), whose HR/9 (1.87) also sits third from the bottom and ranks as a career worst. The .349 weighted on-base average and .346 xwOBA he has allowed are also nearer to the low end of the totem pole than the top. With those facts in mind, it’s unsurprising Leake’s 4.60 ERA and 4.99 FIP are among the highest of his career.
The 2019 version of Leake has been a back-of-the-rotation innings eater, which does carry some value. However, the fact that Leake’s still on the five-year, $80MM deal he signed with the Cardinals prior to the 2016 campaign complicates matters. He came into 2019 with two guaranteed years and $36MM left on the pact, and though the Cards are chipping in $5MM this season and $4MM in ’20, it’s still too rich for other teams. The Mariners are willing to eat a significant amount of the money they’re paying Leake in order to move him, per Divish, but that hasn’t helped them find a taker yet.