Rumors: Washington Nationals Interested In Mike Leake


It is being reported that the Nationals are trying to bring Mike Leake to DC, who has played for Dusty Baker in Cincinnati.

With Jordan Zimmermann now in Detroit and Doug Fister leaving via free agency, the Washington Nationals do have some holes in their rotation both in the present and possibly the future if Stephen Strasburg leaves for free agency next offseason. However, could they look to fill that void with one of the top pitchers still on the market?

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network, the Nats are one of a few teams that are trying to sign right-handed starter Mike Leake. Leake pitched for the Reds and Giants in 2015:

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This past season, Leake went 11-10 with a 3.70 ERA in 30 starts (two complete games). The 28-year-old right-hander was traded from the Reds to the Giants before the July trade deadline, but he went on the disabled list in early August because of a strained left hamstring.

While he went 2-5 with San Francisco in nine starts, he did give up three earned runs or fewer in six of those games, including a complete game in his final start of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 30. The one factor that could be pushing the Nationals to a deal for Leake is his experience playing for Dusty Baker.

The Reds drafted Leake with the eighth pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. Leake played four seasons for Baker with Cincinnati (2010-2013), with his best season coming in 2013. During that year, Leake went 14-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 31 starts. He had the third lowest ERA on the team behind Johnny Cueto (current free agent) and Mat Latos. Plus, in that season, eight of his 14 wins were away from Great American Ball Park.

When Leake heads to the mound, he has five pitches in his arsenal. He has a fastball with an average velocity of 90 miles per hour (according to Fangraphs), a cutter, curveball, slider, and changeup. The one issue Leake has is he doesn’t get many swings and misses. His highest strikeout per nine innings total in a single season was 6.9 back in 2014. Last season, he had 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

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The Nats aren’t the only team interested in Leake. The Diamondbacks were highly interested, but they went out and got Shelby Miller from the Braves last night. Rosenthal also noted a couple of days ago that the Cardinals and Giants are possible teams who could sign Leake:

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Even though Tanner Roark and Joe Ross look to be the frontrunners to start the 2016 rotation with the Nats, this is a situation worth monitoring to see if the Washington Nationals could sign another veteran starter without having to give up the 17th pick in this year’s draft.

Update: 2:20 PM ET: According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and MLB Network, the Nationals have made an offer to Leake and are trying to get a deal done: