On Wednesday night, Mariners RHP Mike Leake through a sterling 6-hit complete game against the Houston Astros to secure Seattle’s first win of the year against Houston.
However, Leake very nearly didn’t take the ball for the Mariners. Seattle Times reporter and Mariners beat writer Ryan Divish reported last night and again this morning that Leake was nearly dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the days leading up to the complete game.
In the report, Divish said a deal seemed likely at one point:
"“That Leake made the start on Wednesday evening wasn’t a given. In the days leading up to his start and even into the evening hours on Tuesday, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto worked to finalize a trade that would’ve sent Leake to the Arizona Diamondbacks per MLB sources. Obviously, the deal fell apart before the finish because Leake would’ve never taken the mound if there was a possibility of the deal happening.”"
We do not know what the parameters of such a deal would look like, but we can make a few assumptions. First, the Mariners would almost certainly eat a lot of his remaining salary. Leake is guaranteed $36 million for 2019 and 2020, plus a $5 million buyout of an $18 million mutual option for 2021.
The Cardinals are eating $9 million of that total, and the Mariners have already paid a little more than a third of Leake’s $11 million salary they owe him for this season, or roughly $4 million. This leaves the grand total for Leake at 2-years $23 million which includes a $5 million buyout. But the Mariners have made it clear they will eat money to move vets, so this wouldn’t be an issue.
The second hurdle to jump over would be the player’s no-trade clause. Leake has already waived it once and has voiced frustration over the rebuilding team’s path this year. He is an Arizona native and would conceivably waive the NTC to get out of town, so I don’t see it as a big hurdle.
While the deal may be dead, the fact that it got as far as it did should tell us a few things. First, the Mariners are serious when they say they’ll eat big money to move their expensive vets. They did so with Bruce and presumably were set to do the same for Leake.
Second, Jerry Dipoto is going to be busy in the next 6 weeks. With no August trades this year, he appears to be trying to jump the market with his vets, which means other teams are likely going to be more aggressive as well.
While this is technically no news since the deal didn’t get done, it is important enough to consider the rebuild on. Whether Leake or somebody else is next to go remains to be seen. But Mariners fans should buckle up for a crazy trade season.