Why the Detroit Tigers Should Target Free Agent Mike Leake


Thanks the utter failure of the Alfredo Simon/Shane Greene experiment as well as the general ineffectiveness of a number of younger players, the Detroit Tigers are in the market for starting pitching.

They should be targeting Mike Leake.

The longtime Cincinnati Red was dealt to the San Francisco Giants at the trade deadline and is now a free agent. For a number of reasons, he’s a perfect fit for the Tigers.


Unlike other top starting pitchers on the free agent market, Leake is nowhere near the age of 30. David Price, Zack Greinke and Jeff Samardzija are all 30 years of age or older, making the 27-year-old Leake a much more appealing target in terms of long-term potential.


Jun 24, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;                  Image via Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leake is not your average 27-year-old starting pitcher in terms of experience. The former eighth-overall pick has seven years of experience in the big leagues after becoming only the eighth player in the last 30 years to go straight from the draft to the majors.

Overall, Leake has tossed more than 1,000 innings in his young career.


In over 1,000 innings, Leake has accomplished quite a lot. The former Red owns a career 3.88 ERA and has averaged 11 wins per season. In addition to those numbers, he’s averaged a 122 strikeouts and only 46 walks per season. Leake has also averaged 181 innings pitched per year.

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The 27-year-old may not blow people away with his strikeout totals, but Doug Fister was never piled up the punch outs either and he had considerable success in Detroit.


Despite being younger than every other prominent free agent starting pitcher, Leake is likely to fetch much less on the open market than Price, Greinke or Johnny Cueto.

The aforementioned trio will likely command contracts well north of $100 million, if not pushing $200 million. It’s purely speculative but, given his track record, Leake seems likely to obtain a contract that’s worth somewhere between $60 and $90 million. This is much more appealing than the monster contracts Price or Cueto will land, and leaves more room salary-wise for Al Avila to revamp the Tigers’ roster.

A Leake signing would also fit in with a recent tweet from ESPN’s Buster Only that disclosed that Detroit is “targeting good second-tier free agents.” Which, in case you’re wondering, is exactly what Leake is.

In addition to being cheaper than a top signing, Leake wouldn’t cost a compensatory draft pick because he was traded midseason, making him more “affordable” in that regard.

Should the Tigers sign Leake, the team would be bringing in a dependable, young pitcher who limits walks, is effective and wins games. Comparative to his free agent contemporaries, he’s cheap and also holds the distinction of being much better than the last Cincinnati starting pitcher the Tigers acquired.