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Mike Leake: Not a Diamondback

He may have been prepared to offer a hometown discount to live in Arizona, but it wasn't enough, and Mike Leake will be part of the St. Louis rotation in 2016.

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Multiple sources are reporting that the deal is for five years, at a price of $75 million, with a sixth year option at $18 million. It is pending a physical, which is Hisashi Iwakuma will tell you, is not an absolute given. But assuming it does go through, it will mean the entire top tier of free agents has been signed before Christmas, so if your team was looking to get somebody, and has not already done so, you may find yourself with a lump of coal in your stocking come Christmas morning. What's left is the next tier, a curiously Asian-heavy bunch including Wei-Yin Chen, Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir. Here's what the top half-dozen got this year, in order of total contract.

  • David Price (Red Sox) - seven years, $217 million
  • Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks) - six years, $206.5 million
  • Johnny Cueto (Giants) - six years, $130 million
  • Jordan Zimmermann - five years, $110 million
  • Jeff Samardzija (Giants) - five years, $90 million
  • Mike Leake (Cardinals) - five years, $75 million

On the one hand, the Leake deal certainly looks a lot better value than the Samardzija one: Leake is younger (28 vs. 31 next year), has a higher career ERA+ (101 vs. 96) and was much better last year (106 vs. 79); so getting him for $15 million less seems like a bargain. However, that's more because the Samardzija deal was, IMHO, a horrendous overpay. Five years and $75 million still seems too much for Leake, at least for a franchise in the Diamondbacks' situation, where the front four spots are already occupied by players likely to be better and or cheaper than Leake going forward.

He was certainly a player of interest to the Arizona front-office, and during the winter meetings, it was reported by ESPN's Pedro Gomez that the Diamondbacks were "pretty close" to signing him. He lives here in Phoenix, and was keen on the idea of staying close to home, to the point that it appears the ASU grad was willing to offer a discount to be part of the local team. However, the team's interest apparently cooled after the Shelby Miller trade. Tony La Russa said, "Getting Shelby gives us a [full] rotation. I think it's difficult because when somebody wants to pitch for you and you really like the person, you want to try and work it out. But it's complicated and probably unlikely."

Unless something very surprising happens - and let's face it, after this off-season to date, I would not necessarily rule that out! - the team looks to be set for spring training. Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, Miller and Robbie Ray appear almost guaranteed rotation spots, good health willing, with the fifth looking set to be decided in the preseason, between the likes of Chase Anderson, Archie Bradley. Rubby De La Rosa and Zack Godley.