Phillies Three Free Agent Starting Pitching Possibilities
By Matt Veasey
Aug 22, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Leake (13) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park.
(Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Perhaps the least sexy free agent starting pitcher available on the market this off-season, Leake may nevertheless be the exact right fit for a rebuilding team such as the Phillies.
First, the qualifying offer situation is not an issue with him at all. Because Leake did not spend the entire 2015 season with the same team, the San Francisco Giants, who obtained the righty in a trade deadline deal with the Cincinnati Reds, were not entitled to make him such an offer.
So Leake would not cost the Phillies any compensation as far as draft picks are concerned. With Leake, it’s all about talent and contract. His talent is not top-tier. He is the very definition of back-rotation starter. He is what he is. He has made at least 24 starts in every one of his six big league seasons, at least 29 in the last five full seasons.
Leake has a career 3.88 ERA and 1.271 WHIP despite pitching almost the entirety of his career in the friendly confines of Great American Ball Park, the Reds’ shooting gallery home field. In other words, he certainly would not be intimidated by pitching at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.
You could be excused if the thought popping into your head when thinking about Leake is “didn’t we already have this guy when his name was Kyle Kendrick?” And you would be close to correct.
With Leake, two years younger than Kendrick, it’s all about your expectations. This is a guy who can likely give you 30 starts, 180-190 innings, and not beat himself in the vast majority of those outings over the next five years.
Again, this would not in any way be a sexy signing. But he would almost certainly return better overall value for a longer period of time than this year’s stopgaps, Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams. He would be the #3-4 starter now, and drop to the 4-5 role as the team got better, ala Kendrick in the late-00’s for the Phillies.
The big question with Leake would be, at what cost? How much is his agent, Dan Horwits of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, going to be seeking. If we are talking about a 5-year, $60 million deal, that should be attractive to the Phillies. If you can get him for 3-years, $45 million with options, it might be even more attractive.
You might say “$15 million a year for Mike Leake?” and call me crazy. Perhaps I am a bit nuts. But do a real examination of baseball contracts and revenue, and look at where things are heading, and that type of deal suddenly doesn’t seem so out of line. Leake made nearly $10 million this past season, and is entering his prime. It’s the kind of thing that the Phillies should at least consider at this point.