Reports: Cardinals Sign Leake to Five-Year Deal

The St. Louis Cardinals have had a rough offseason. After it was announced that Lance Lynn was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2016 season, the Redbirds had been searching for a free agent starter to replace him. They were outbid by the Boston Red Sox at the eleventh hour for David Price and lost John Lackey to the archrival Chicago Cubs. They were dealt another huge blow when star outfielder Jason Heyward also departed for Chicago. However, it seems that the Cardinals have finally made their big free agent catch of the winter: former Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants pitcher Mike Leake.

Chris Cotillo of SBNation.com first reported that St. Louis was close to signing Leake on Monday night. The Cardinals are expected to formally announce the deal later today, according to MLB.com’s Jennifer Langosch. Leake had reportedly been close to signing with the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks in recent weeks.

Over the first five years of his career in Cincinnati and San Francisco, Leake has been a very average pitcher. He has registered a 3.88 ERA, 101 ERA+, 4.20 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, and 6.1 K/9 in just over a thousand MLB innings. His large, player-friendly deal fits in with this winter’s expensive pitching market, and has drawn comparisons to the four-year, $82.5 million extension the Red Sox gave Rick Porcello, another average hurler, at the beginning of the 2015 season. However, it’s worth noting that Leake has a 3.19 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in six career starts at Busch Stadium, so there could be some room for improvement. He also has a 3.15 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 19 career starts against the Cubs, which may have factored into the Cardinals’ decision to sign him.

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