Mike Leake signed a five year $80 million dollar deal with the St. Louis Cardinals
Every offseason there are plenty of great moves made, and sometimes even more bad moves made. In this column, I will be covering the moves from the 2016 offseason, and giving my view of how they will turn out.
Mike Leake - Five years, $80 Million, $18 Million mutual option for sixth year with a $5 Million buyout, full no trade clause
With the exception of last years trading deadline and this years offseason, we really have not heard enough about Mike Leake. In 2015, Leake went 11-10 with a 3.70 ERA (9-5 3.56 with the Reds, 2-5 4.07 with the Giants after a trade in July), and logged 192 innings across 30 starts. His average start in 2015 was 6-6+ innings, 2.6 runs allowed, 5.8 hits allowed, .73 homeruns allowed, 1.6 walks, and 3.9 strikeouts. Leake also had 19 quality starts, which ranked above Cole Hamels, Ian Kennedy, and Noah Syndergaard among others. While my average start argument may not be a very good one, and is not something people really look at, it does still show what a quality starter he is. A comparison to the Leake contract would be Jeff Samardjiza, who signed a five year $90 Million dollar deal. Not only did Samardjiza sign a bigger contract, but he rejected an offer of $100 million from an unknown team. So which deal is better? Samardjiza is 31 (Leake is 28), and while he has been occasionally great, he has dealt with inconsistencies. Samardjiza's average start in 2015 was 6-6+ innings, 3.8 runs allowed, 7.1 hits allowed, .9 homeruns allowed, 1.5 walks, and 5.1 strikeouts. Samardzija had two more starts than Leake did, yet still only had 15 quality starts. You can certainly make the argument that pitching in Chicago hurt him, especially when you look at his 2014 numbers (7-13 2.99 23 quality starts). However, the home/away split really did not make much difference for "The Shark", seeing as he went 5-8 with a 5.33 at home and 6-5 with a 4.61 on the road. While Samardzija will join a better rotation with less pressure on him, and be in a better hitter's park, was $90 million too much for him? Teams are certainly putting a very high value on starting pitching but $90 million is too much, especially considering he is 31, and has been inconsistent throughout his big league career. If a 31 year old with consistency issues gets $90, shouldn't a 28 year old who has performed better, and with much more consistently get more money? The answer would be absolutely. So considering that Leake is 28, the rest of the league is shelling out unbelievable money for pitching, and the Cardinals got him through his age 33 season for $80 million is absolute genius. Not to mention the fact that Leake will be a number 3-4 starter in St. Louis, and won't have as much pressure on him as he has on his previous clubs. Do not be surprised if this turns out to be the best contract given out this offseason.