Seattle Mariners Trade-A-Day: A Leake in Cleveland

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 11: Mike Leake #8 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on June 11, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 11: Mike Leake #8 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on June 11, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /
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Mike Leake is hot at the right time. You ask, could that be a reason to keep him with the Mariners? Nope, if anything he is marketing himself to a 2019 contender. And of the current starters, Leake remains the most expendable.

Looking at the rotation, it just makes more sense for the Mariners to invest in Kikuchi, Gonzales, and Leblanc. While the former two are younger than Leake, Leblanc was more consistent last year and deserves the injury benefit of the doubt this season.

So even though Mike Leake is clearly the Mariners’ fifth-best starter, he is still an asset. His main problem is that he is a Jekyll-Hyde starter.

When he’s on, he is an inning eater and will give you a quality start. Including today’s win, Leake has pitched six innings or more allowing two earned runs or less. And one of those was a complete game against the first place Astros! His liability is when he knocks you right out of the game early. Mr. Hyde Leake shows up more often than he should.

Which is why Mike Leake should be traded to the Indians. Despite talks about them becoming sellers, the Indians shouldn’t close their window just yet. While the Twins are far ahead in the Central, the Tribe lies just a half-game behind the second Wild Card.

They have the offensive horses to land a playoff spot and should stay buyers. Their only issue is that despite the very special Trevor Bauer and up-and-coming Shane Bieber, Cleveland’s bullpen is decimated.

With Salazar, Clevinger, Kluber, and Carrasco sidelined, this team needs serious rotation help. Salazar is on the 60-day IL retroactive to March after a shoulder procedure. Kluber’s broken arm sidelines him until August and Carrasco may be out a while with a blood condition. Despite Clevinger returning soon, he’s not enough.

Mike Leake provides that veteran presence for a team in the thick of the Wild Card race. In case Carrasco, Salazar, or Kluber have setbacks, the Tribe would have a back-pocket innings eater as well. The only concern for the Tribe is that Mike Leake is a home run threat with a low strikeout rate. But once again, he is riding high right now and that could attract GM Mike Chernoff.

So who should our Mariners land in place for Leake? Well if you’re Mike Chernoff, you don’t want to give up too much for a back-end starter who gives up his share of home runs and doesn’t have a great ERA.

You also don’t want to break the farm system for someone who is a rental filling in for three injured starters. But Chernoff, give your counterpart someone from the farm since we are rebuilding here in Seattle.

With bullpen still, the biggest need, give us your 24th-best prospect Aaron Civale. Surely you can afford to trade him with eight pitchers ranked above him in your MLB Pipeline. Drafted three years ago in the third round, Civale has a good variety with his four-pitch arsenal.

With a fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup, his cutter ranked highest on his scouting report. Which means the Mariners would need to hope his offspeed works well since he is not known for his speed.

A good sign is that Pipeline compared Civale to Shane Bieber, saying that he is following his same path and “has the best command in the system.” Remember, people. That system is 11th-best in the Majors this season.

dark. Next. What the Encarnacion Trade Really Means

So even though Civale has started, a drop in strikeout rate is jeopardizing that. That means he could fit in for a team lacking any kind of middle relief. After all, he was scouted as potentially finding “more success as a multi-inning reliever who focuses on cutters and well-placed fastballs.”

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