The Cardinals filled a hole in their starting rotation on Tuesday, reportedly agreeing to terms with free agent right-hander Mike Leake, per Ken Rosenthal's report. The deal is for five years, $80 million with a mutual option that could bump the total value to $93 million, which likely means there is a buyout on that option making up for the difference in the reported values at this stage. The agreement is still pending a physical.
Leake was 11-10 with a 3.70 ERA in 30 starts for the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants in 2015 with 119 strikeouts and 49 walks in 192 innings. The six-year veteran has a reputation as an innings eater, reaching 30 starts for each of the last four seasons, and throwing at least 192 innings in each of the last three years.
Over those last three seasons, Leake averaged 31 starts, 200 innings, 135 strikeouts, 12 wins and a 3.59 ERA.
Leake was ranked by our own Grant Brisbee as the 21st-best free agent this offseason.
Because Leake was traded midseason from Cincinnati to San Francisco, the Giants were ineligible to extend a qualifying offer to Leake as a free agent. As such, the Cardinals won't have to forfeit a draft pick for their new pitcher. This is also their first real free agent success of the offseason, as they finished second in the chase for David Price while seeing both John Lackey and Jason Heyward head to the rival Cubs.
The Cardinals will have a healthy Adam Wainwright back in 2016 as well, giving them a rotation of Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Leake, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia, with Marco Gonzales around as depth.
Leake, now 28, was picked by the Reds in the first round out of Arizona State in 2009, the eighth overall pick in the draft. He never spent a day in the minors, going 64-52 with a 3.88 ERA in 177 games in his six years in the majors, including 172 starts.
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