Mike Leake TBOH Staff Pick: San Francisco Giants

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Free agent starting pitcher Mike Leake is likely to stay with the San Francisco Giants.

However, for the first time in our staff evaluations, we have a free agent whom the Philadelphia Phillies might actually find of interest. Both myself and Alexis Girardo actually chose the Phils as his destination, while Tyler DiSalle went with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ethan Witte, David Mosemann, and Ryan Gerstel all went with the Giants, making that our consensus staff choice.

Leake isn’t going anywhere…the Giants will want to retain his 28-year old mid-rotation arm,” said Ryan in making his pick. Ethan believes that it will take a “5-year, $75 million” deal to lure him back to the City by the Bay. The diminutive righthander made nearly $10 million this season, which he split between the Cincinnati Reds and the Giants.

Leake was the Reds’ first round selection at 8th overall in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of Arizona State University. He reached the Major Leagues without throwing a pitch in the minors outside of a 2009 stint in the Arizona Fall League, the first pitcher in two decades to make that leap from college directly to the pros.

It was that ability to jump straight to the big leagues that has helped Leake reach free agency in his age 28 season. That very fact should make him attractive to a team such as the Phillies. He is a more expensive, but I believe a bit more talented version of Jeremy Hellickson, whom the Phils just acquired in trade.

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With the Phillies, Leake would pitch in the first three of the rotation, along with Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff, and would serve as a veteran influence for those young arms as they continue to develop. In the long-term, he would easily slide back to the 3-4 slot in their rotation, as more talented arms hopefully emerge.

Over his six big league seasons, Leake has a 64-52 record with career 3.88 ERA, 1.271 WHIP, 4.21 FIP, and average 101 ERA+ marks. He has allowed 1,102 hits in 1,083.2 innings pitched, with a 730/275 K:BB ratio. He also has postseason experience, ironically getting drilled by the Giants while starting for the Reds in Game Four of the 2012 National League Division Series.

It remains to be seen if San Francisco would be interested in bringing him back, as Leake did not make a great impression after coming over in a trade deadline deal with the Reds in exchange for a pair of prospects, including highly regarded pitcher Keury Mella. In nine starts with the Giants, Leake had five Quality Starts, but was hit pretty hard in the other four.

There have been no rumblings out of the Phillies’ camp in regards to Leake, so it’s possible that with the Hellickson acquisition and a number of young arms nearly ready to debut at the Major League level, they will simply pass. Along with the Giants and DBacks suggested by our staff, the Cubs, Rockies, Yankees, and Marlins are among the clubs who have been linked with him to this point.

Next: TBOH Staff FA Pick: Chris Davis

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