Earlier this winter, the St. Louis Cardinals said goodbye to starting pitcher John Lackey and lost Lance Lynn for the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery. They offered $200 million to free agent David Price, but lost out to the Boston Red Sox.
The Cardinals addressed the rotation need on December 22nd by an agreement with free agent pitcher Mike Leake on a five-year contract worth $80 million. The deal reportedly includes full no-trade protection and a mutual option that could increase the total value to the $93-$94 million range.
The former Cincinnati Reds starter was even more appealing to the Cardinals because there are no penalties attached. Leake did not receive a qualifying offer and a loss of first-round draft pick attached to his signing because he was traded to the San Francisco Giants last season.
Though the Cardinals need additional offense as well, the club seemed more immediately focused on finding value in a pitching-heavy market. Whether the club is through with its off-season moves remain to be seen. Other potential areas of focus, whether via free agency or trade, could be the bullpen and a first baseman or right fielder. Young pitching could be offered in trade.
Leake joins a 2016 rotation that also includes Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha. The next level of starting pitching reserves include three left-handers, all of whom have some Major League experience in Tyler Lyons, Tim Cooney and Marco Gonzales.
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