SF Giants New Free-Agent Targets: RHP Mike Leake
SF Giants fans may not look fondly at righthanded pitcher Mike Leake after his relatively uneventful tenure with the team. Still, after the Diamondbacks declined his $18.5 million club option, fans should welcome the idea of bringing him back into the fold.
Leake opted out of the 2020 season but has made at least 30 starts in every other season since 2012. With the best Giants starters entering free agency, Leake would be a stabilizing veteran force to lockup one spot in the team’s rotation.
While the 2019 season was one of the least effective of Leake’s career, he still amassed 197 innings and held opponents to a 4.29 ERA. Most of his peripherals were very much in line with his career marks, but a spike in his home run-to-flyball ratio led to a career-high FIP of 5.19. As someone who’s always pitched to contact, that was assuredly a concerning trend.
However, that spike could be a side-effect of the juiced baseball, which caused a spike in home runs around the league. A pitcher like Leake, who allows more balls in play, may not reach the same level of effectiveness with those conditions. At the same time, Leake’s 18.2% HR/FB rate in 2019 was 4.1% higher than his career numbers. It seems unlikely that changes in the ball could cause all of that spike.
The Giants front-office is very likely to bring in multiple starting pitchers this offseason. Leake lacks the upside the team will need to make a postseason run, but with few trustworthy options currently on the roster, he would be a strong addition.