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The Mike Leake Trade and What it Means for the Cardinals

Mike Leake MFOOZ1/ via


The Mike Leake Trade and What it Means for the Cardinals

News of Mike Leake being traded, broke Wednesday afternoon, via Bob Nightengale’s and Ken Rosenthal’s Twitter accounts.  There were no details at first, but since, everything has been disclosed.  The Cardinals are getting little in return, other than the $38 million dollars they now do not owe to Leake.

The Mike Leake Trade

Mike Leake was traded to the Seattle Mariners, prior to the Wednesday game in Milwaukee.  The Cardinals sent with him, $750,000 in International spending money, and $17 million towards the remaining $55 million on Leake’s contract.  In return, the Cards received minor league shortstop, Rayder Ascanio.

Leake overwhelming underperformed for the Cardinals, considering they will have paid him $42 million, for his two years in St. Louis.  In those two seasons, Leake posted a record of 16-24.  He also had a mediocre 4.46 ERA, in 56 starts.  Though his numbers were bad, he did serve a purpose in 2016, when he threw 176 innings, in place of Lance Lynn.  However, that was not enough to justify his $80 million contract.  That is the biggest reason why the Cardinals got rid of him, on August 30th.  They saw their chance to free up $38 million, and they took it.  Acquiring a defensive shortstop to fill a minor league roster spot, is only a bonus.

What the Trade Means for St. Louis

Jack Flaherty Gets the Call

Taking 70% of Leake’s contract off the books opens up multiple opportunities for the Cardinals.  One, as it was announced Wednesday, will be the chance to see what Jack Flaherty can do, at the big league level.  Flaherty will start Friday for St. Louis, after going 14-4, with a 2.18 ERA between Springfield and Memphis this season.

Resigning Lance Lynn

Another possibility that has come about, is the ability to focus on resigning Lance Lynn.  With Lynn’s career success, and his 3.14 ERA, and 3.1 WAR this season, he will likely command 5 years, $100-110 million this offseason.  That number looked awfully high when the team was also paying Leake $16 million per year.  Most of that money is freed up now, though, and the $20 million per year, for a guy like Lynn, does not seem as bad.  However, recent comments from Lynn, about just working for the team, and from Mozeliak, about wanting to get younger within the rotation, a Lynn resigning does not seem likely.

Rotation Youth

Mozeliak’s comments, bring about the next opportunity.  The Cardinals could have one of the best, young rotations in baseball, at some point next season.  Depending on how Flaherty works out and depending on what they decide Alex Reyes’ role will be next season, the Cardinals could have the best 1-4, in baseball.  Potentially, the Birds could go Carlos Martinez, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, and then either Wainwright or Wacha.  There is a risk that this rotation would not be able to get the innings they would need to, by the end of the season, but it would definitely be an intriguing starting staff.

Giancarlo Stanton

Finally, the possibility that has drawn the most interest, and that would excite most Cardinals fans, is the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton.  Some say this is just a pipe-dream, others say the Cards are favorites to land Stanton.  Though the Leake trade may not be directly related to acquiring Stanton, the money that has become available through it, definitely helps.

Overall Take

Looking at the big picture, and even the immediate future, shipping Leake to Seattle seems to be a positive for the Cardinals.  They opened up a lot of payroll, received a minor league roster spot holder in return, and are now going to see what they really have, in Jack Flaherty.  Leake was not this team’s best chance to win, now or in the future, and trading him seems to have been the right move.