Looking for starting pitching to get them through injuries to Brandon Woodruff, Jhoulys Chacin, and Gio Gonzalez, the Milwaukee Brewers have already traded for Jordan Lyles. Their next target for the rotation, at least in the near term, might just be a familiar opponent — Mike 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
On the topic of Mike Leake’s no-trade clause, Jon Heyman says Leake would be willing to waive it in order to come to Milwaukee.
Mike Leake has a full no-trade but has submitted Seattle a list of teams he’d approve. Uncertain how long that list is but both Brewers and Rangers are on it (and presumably many others). @Ken_Rosenthal mentioned those 2 teams as having possible interest.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 31, 2019
While Leake is not the most exciting starting pitcher on the market, he may be one of the more accessible pitchers. As we know, Jerry DiPoto is always open to deal, and with Seattle out of contention, DiPoto would probably like to get some of Leake’s money off his budget.
Going into 2016, Leake signed a 5 year, $80 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2017, he was traded to Seattle with the Cardinals eating a substantial chunk of Leake’s contract, including $5M this season. The Cardinals will eat another $4M in 2020, and he has an $18 million option for 2021 with a $5 million buyout.
With that in mind, the team that trades with Seattle for Leake would be looking at the remainder of $11M owed for this season, $11M owed in 2020, and up to $18M owed in 2021. If he plays that out, he becomes a free agent in 2022 at the age of 34. If the Brewers are serious about this trade, then Seattle must be serious about eating some substantial dollars.
As mentioned, Leake is not the type of pitcher that seemingly does much to move the needle. What he does do is provide reliable back-of-the-rotation innings help, which is vital for Milwaukee at this juncture.
Leake has consistently given the teams he pitches for in the neighborhood of 180 innings every year. He does not walk people, and he can be expected to give an ERA just over 4.00. His home runs per 9 for 2019 is 1.71, which is concerning in Miller Park.
The Brewers are desperate for innings. Leake is a reliable arm that can get the Brewers 5-6 innings per outing. He also probably comes relatively cheap, depending on how much salary the Mariners would eat (and which prospects the Mariners would want in return for eating that money). And who knows, there may be something that the player development/analytics gurus of the Brewers can pull out of the veteran pitcher.
Baseball statistics and contract information courtesy of Fangraphs and Sportrac