The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to sign right-handed pitcher Mike Leake, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is pending a physical.
Chris Cotillo of SB Nation first reported that Leake was close with St. Louis. Rosenthal reports that Leake's deal is a five-year, $80 million deal with an option that could push the total guarantee to $93 or $94 million. Rosenthal also reports that Leake's deal includes a no-trade clause.
The 28-year-old Leake was one of the top remaining starting pitchers on the free agent market and would make a lot of sense for the Cardinals, considering they lost John Lackey in free agency and Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery.
As of now, the Cardinals' rotation looks much more formidable with the inclusion of Leake. Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia, and Michael Wacha are the other four starters on the St. Louis staff.
The team had been in pursuit of the top starters on the free agent market, most notably David Price, but had fallen short on getting a deal done. St. Louis GM John Mozeliak then went on-the-record and said that he did not expect any "dynamic signings" the rest of the offseason. Leake may not be considered "dynamic," but he definitely fits the Cardinals' needs and overall makeup.
Leake does not post eye-popping numbers on the mound, though he has shown to be reliable over the course of his career. In 2015, he went 11-10 with a 3.70 ERA and a 119 to 49 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 192 innings with both the Reds and Giants. According to FanGraphs, he was worth 1.7 Wins Above Replacement.
Leake is a great ground ball pitcher, which will play well in Busch Stadium, considered a hitter's park. Leake ranked 15th in the Majors with a 51.8% ground ball rate, ahead of the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Gerrit Cole. In Leake, the Cardinals will be getting a consistent, durable starter to be a solid mid-rotation piece.
In six seasons in the Majors, Leake has a 3.88 ERA and a 730 to 275 strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.65 K/BB) in 1083 2/3 innings.
At $16 million per season, Leake will not make as much money as sone of his starting pitcher counterparts, as he ties Lackey in annual average value, but falls behind Jeff Samardzija, who made $18 million a season. Leake was also untied to draft pick compensation.