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SF Giants History

Giants: A look back at the Adam Duvall-for-Mike Leake trade

Nick San Miguel
Mike Leake during his tenure with the SF Giants. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Mike Leake during his tenure with the SF Giants. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The decision to trade Adam Duvall for Mike Leake is one that still haunts some San Francisco Giants fans. Was it really that bad of a move?

Back in 2015, the San Francisco Giants were in a close competition with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West title. However, their starting rotation was weak, and they needed another arm to bolster the staff.

They found that arm in Mike Leake.

At 2015 staff was fronted by Madison Bumgarner, with Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Chris Heston, and Ryan Vogelsong all seeing time in the rotation at various points in the year.

Between injuries and underperformance, Bumgarner and Heston were the only reliable options throughout the season, so trading for Leake made a good deal of sense in pursuit of a playoff berth.

At the time of the trade, Leake was 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 21 starts with the Cincinnati Reds, and one of the most coveted arms on the trade block.

However, he failed to duplicate that success in a Giants uniform, going just 1-5 with a 4.86 ERA in eight starts.

There was some thought that the Giants might try to re-sign Leake during the offseason, as he was just a rental at the time of the trade, but they decided to go another route and instead signed Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto to lucrative long-term deals.

The reason this trade is remembered is because of what the Giants gave up in power-hitting outfielder Adam Duvall.

Despite impressive numbers in the upper levels of the minors, Duvall never received an extended look in the majors with the Giants, and he went on to have some big years with the Reds.

In 2016, he hit .241/.297/.498 with 33 home runs and 103 RBI to land a spot on the NL All-Star team. The following year, he batted .249/.301/.480 with 31 home runs and 99 RBI.

After a slow start to the 2018 season he was traded to the Atlanta Braves, and he provided them with a boost down the stretch last season amid injuries with a .267/.315/.567 line and 10 home runs in just 41 games.

For a few years following the trade, it looked like the Giants may have given up a star outfielder in exchange for a poor rental.

Now that Duvall’s production has fallen off, the trade doesn’t look quite so bad, but they still gave up some quality power production which is something the team has been lacking.

It is easy to look back now and say it was a bad trade, but it was the right move at the time given the fact that the Giants were in the playoff hunt and in need of starting pitching help.

Leake went on to sign a five-year, $80 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in free agency that offseason. He’s put up respectable numbers with the Cardinals, Mariners and Diamondbacks in recent years, but nothing to make the Giants regret not re-signing him.

Overall, it was a trade that the Reds won, but only for a short window of time.

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