Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake has become the first MLB player to publicly opt out of participating in the shortened 2020 season.
MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert was the first to report Leake’s decision, and it was confirmed by Arizona GM Mike Hazen.
Leake’s agent Danny Horwits issued a statement saying Leake and his family had taken many personal factors into consideration when making the decision, and the pitcher is looking forward to returning in 2021. He will miss out on roughly $5 million by sitting out the season.
Mike Leake is set to be a free agent after the 2020 season. Here is an explanation of his opting out from his agent, Danny Horwits. pic.twitter.com/dtlZm4OC5E
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 29, 2020
Leake is highly unlikely to be the last player to make this decision. Health and safety are major concerns right now, and if players do not feel safe playing, they have every right to opt out of doing so. Several NBA players, including some fairly important ones, are doing the same in that sport.
Acquired by the Diamondbacks last July in a trade with the Mariners, Leake went 3-3 with a 4.35 ERA in ten starts for Arizona last season. The 32-year-old was expected to challenge for a spot in the back of the Diamondbacks’ rotation.
The Seattle Mariners had a real photo finish at Wednesday’s trade deadline.
General manager Jerry Dipoto told the media that his team hit send on a deal sending righty Mike Leake to the Arizona Diamondbacks with just 68 seconds left to go before the 1 PM PST deadline, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.
Leake, who went 9-8 with a 4.40 ERA in 22 starts for the Mariners this year, attended school at Arizona State, so the move to the D-backs is fitting. There, he figures to fill the lead right-hander role vacated by All-Star pitcher Zack Greinke’s trade to the Houston Astros.
These types of franchise-changing decisions can really come down to the wire though, as this other professional team can attest to.
Mike Leake is one of several veteran starting pitchers that have been made available in trade discussions ahead of Wednesday afternoon’s deadline, and there are multiple teams interested in adding him.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers have engaged in trade conversations with the Seattle Mariners surrounding Leake.
#Brewers one of teams on #Mariners’ Mike Leake, sources tell The Athletic. #Rangers also have been in mix. Trade possible, even after Leake pitched last night. Leake holds full no-trade, but told reporters he was willing to waive it for deal that did not come to fruition – yet.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2019
The Mariners appear motivated to move Leake, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported on Tuesday that they are willing to eat a significant portion of the 31-year-old’s remaining salary to help facilitate a deal.
The #Mariners are telling teams they will eat large amount of Mike Leake's remaining salary to facilitate a trade. He's earning $16 million this year, $15M in 2020, and has an $18M option or $5M buyout in 2021. The #STLCards are paying $5M of his contract this year, and $4M next.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 31, 2019
Leake is 9-8 with a 4.40 ERA this season and has a career ERA of 4.05 and WHIP of 1.28. He has thrown 175 innings or more in every season since 2012 and is on pace to surpass that mark again this year, so he would be a nice innings-eater down the stretch for a contending team.
Mike Leake lost a perfect game bid in the ninth inning of Friday night’s contest between his Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels.
A week after being knocked out of the game in the first inning by the Angels, Leake bounced back with a stellar start. He dominated the Angels through eight innings before allowing a leadoff single to Luis Rengifo on a 1-1 pitch in the top of the ninth.
The hit cost Leake both his perfect game and no-hitter. He also walked the next batter, Kevan Smith. But Leake got two more easy outs and then struck out Mike Trout to end the game, giving him a spectacular one-hit shutout with six strikeouts.
Leake did it all on 98 pitches, 66 for strikes. He showed excellent movement on his pitches, keeping the Angels off-balance most of the evening. Prior to the ninth, he hadn’t thrown more than 12 pitches in a single inning.
The 10-0 victory was nice revenge for Seattle, which got stomped by the Angels 13-0 exactly a week prior. Not only was Leake knocked out of that start in the first, but the Mariners were no-hit. They nearly returned the favor both on offense and defense.
After an offseason that has already seen them lose both John Lackey and Jason Heyward to the divisional rival Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals are done sitting on their hands and letting a mass exodus out of the Gateway to the West happen.
On Tuesday, the team reached an agreement with righthander Mike Leake on a five-year, $80 million deal per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is said to include a full no-trade clause and a mutual option that could potentially increase its value to north of $93 million.
Source: Leake deal with #STLCards is for five years with an option and includes a full no-trade clause.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 22, 2015
Source: Leake deal is five years, $80M with mutual option that could increase total value to $93M/$94M range.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 22, 2015
Leake, 28, went 11-10 with a 3.56 ERA, a 4.20 FIP, and 119 strikeouts last season splitting time between the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants, who acquired him at the trade deadline.
An average annual value of $16 million might seem like a hefty price tag for a pitcher like Leake who has never been much more than a back-end of the rotation starter. The San Diego native, who also attracted interest from other National League suitors this winter, is essentially a low-strikeout, low-upside innings eater. But the Cardinals needed to make a move, and they could use the increased depth behind guys like Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez.
In any case, Leake will be reunited in St. Louis with former Reds teammate Jonathan Broxton, which means we could be seeing more fashion fireworks in the home dugout.
Image Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Diamondbacks made a huge free agent splash in signing Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million deal on Friday, and they may not be done. Reports also say they have interest in adding free agent pitcher Mike Leake as well.
Leake, 28, lives in the Phoenix area and attended Arizona State for college, so he would like to stay at home, Ken Rosenthal reports.
#DBacks hold advantage on Leake if they can find room in their budget. Lives in Phoenix area, wants to stay at home, sources say.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2015
Leake posted a career-high 214.1 innings last season with the Cincinnati Reds. His 3.70 ERA was the second-best mark of his career. He’s 53-42 with a 3.92 career ERA and he should transition well from the NL Central to the NL West if he makes that move. The Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals are also said to be interested in Leake.
Fortunately for both of them, Jonathan Broxton was there to help. The Reds reliever grabbed some clippers and went to work on his teammates and the results were definitely interesting.
If LeCure was expecting something goofy when he looked in the mirror, he got what he was looking for.
If I had to sport one, I’d go with the Mohawk like Mike Leake. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose.
The bad news for the Reds is they lost again on Friday night. The good news is at least they can cut their goofy hair. It certainly didn’t help LeCure, who gave up three hits and a walk in 0.1 innings in relief Friday.