Dodgers Dodge Bullet By Passing on Leake
By Alex Campos
The Dodgers watched another pitcher sign with another team, but this time we should all be thrilled about it.
The Dodgers have been eerily inactive this offseason, much to the frustration of fans. It was exciting when they made a trade about nine days ago, until the trade was announced and ended up being a prospect/prospect swap.
The lack of rumors is definitely concerning, but I highly doubt this front office cares about the fans’ impatience. They’re obviously going to field a competitive team, but they won’t make a move just for the sake of making a move.
This offseason has definitely not gone according to plan, but the Dodgers aren’t panicking. The Cardinals have also had a quiet offseason, losing more than they’ve gained when Jason Heyward and John Lackey jumped ship for Chicago. In my opinion, they panicked this morning.
There’s only one part about this deal that I am a fan of. The deal is with the Cardinals, not the Dodgers. If you’ve read my past pitching speculation posts, you probably know that I’m not a fan of Mike Leake. You know exactly what you’re going to get out of Leake, but it isn’t anything special.
I wouldn’t have been happy if the Dodgers gave Leake a five-year contract. I wouldn’t have been happy if they gave him and option and/or a NTC. I wouldn’t have been happy if they gave him $80M. The Cards did all of the above.
Sep 30, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Mike Leake (13) throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning at AT&T Park. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Leake isn’t a bad pitcher by any means. His career numbers are a little inflated with nearly half of his innings pitched coming at Great American Ballpark, but he’s not bad. I wouldn’t exactly call him “good” either, but he’s consistent. He’s started 30 or more games in each of the last four years, with ERAs of 4.58, 3.37, 3.70 and 3.70. His FIPs are consistently higher than his ERA, and he’s never really been a high strikeout guy.
Keep this all in mind, because he is going to St. Louis and Cardinals’ devil magic will probably give him a Cy Young in the next couple years. Expect ridiculously low BABIPs and crazy unsustainable numbers, because Cardinals.
The Dodgers probably need pitching. If healthy, they still have a very good rotation. Unfortunately, four of their five projected starters either have injury concerns or have funky deliveries that makes me think an injury is coming (Alex Wood). Leake would have given the Dodgers something they need, which is a starter you can pencil in right now for 180+ innings. As one commenter pointed out to me about a week ago, Clayton Kershaw is the only Dodger starter to ever pitch 180 or more innings in back-to-back seasons. Part of that is youth, part is injury plagued pitchers (Brett Anderson/Hyun-jin Ryu), but it’s a question of consistency vs. upside. Leake offers very little upside from what I can see, but will eat his innings.
Next: Dodgers Believe Ryu Will Be Ready for ST
It’s still unknown how interested the Dodgers were in Leake, despite reports naming him as a possibility when the Hisashi Iwakuma signing fell through. Yovani Gallardo, Wei-Yin Chen and Scott Kazmir are probably the best free agent pitching options left. Gallardo is a lot of meh, Chen is good but will cost a draft pick and won’t be cheap, and Kazmir is a lefty that could also command a five-year deal. Kenta Maeda is looking more and more appealing, and the Dodgers undoubtably have a number of trades in the works. Fans haven’t been thrilled with the Dodgers’ offseason thus far, but we should all be happy that they passed on Leake.