In the early hours of Friday at just over 12 hours before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Cincinnati Reds traded a second member of its starting rotation this week, as Mike Leake is headed to San Francisco.
Leake ended his Reds tenure much like Johnny Cueto did, tossing eight scoreless innings in his last start before being traded. He didn’t garner as many players as Cueto, but what the Reds did receive were two of San Francisco’s top prospects in pitcher Keury Mella and infielder Adam Duvall.
Mella was rated as the Giants top prospect and is another young prospect garnered by the Reds in their trades this week. He is 5-3 this season with a 3.31 ERA in 16 starts, all coming with Single-A San Jose. Mella made an appearance at Great American Ballpark over the All-Star weekend when he played for the World Team in the Futures Game.
Duvall brings some MLB experience having played 28 games for the Giants last season in which he hit three home runs and drove in five. He’s spent this entire season with Triple-A Sacramento where he’s posted a .281 average with 26 homers and 80 RBI. While he is listed as a first baseman, he can also play third and left field. With Todd Frazier and Joey Votto already claiming hold of the corner infield spots, the Reds plan to try and develop Duvall into a better left field candidate, an area the Reds have been desperately trying to develop at any cost.
Leake ends his Cincinnati career for now with a 62-47 record and a career 3.87 ERA. He never spent time in the minors before the Reds added him to their rotation back in 2010 and he made an immediate impact not only with his arm, but also with his bat. Since arriving on the scene, no pitcher has more hits than Leake’s 76. In his first season he hit .333 in 48 at bats and also has five career homers and 20 RBI.
In his last four starts, he’s gone 30 innings, allowed just two runs on 15 hits. His 9-5 record joins a stellar Giants staff that includes Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain,and Jake Peavy. He’ll be replacing Tim Hudson in the rotation after the veteran pitcher was placed on the DL. The one downside for the Reds is that Leake was scheduled to face the Pirates on Sunday, a team he hasn’t lost to since 2012.
The Reds are still weighing their options for who will replace Leake on Sunday in the rotation. David Holmberg was called up to replace Cueto in the rotation and earned a victory thanks to 15 runs of support and his first big league hit to win 15-5. Tony Cingrani, recently acquired John Lamb, and Dylan Axelrod have all been mentioned as possibilities, but for now the Reds will try to rebound from Friday’s heartbreaking 5-4 defeat.
Leake will make his Giants debut Sunday while Cueto watched another win ruined by his bullpen as the Royals pen lost the lead and eventually the game to the Blue Jays in Toronto. He is not expected to face the Reds when Kansas City comes to town in mid August, but former Reds Opening Day starter, Edinson Volquez, is on schedule to pitch against his former team. The Reds could have a chance to run into Leake when Cincinnati heads to San Francisco in mid-September.
The former Arizona State standout will see his number change as well from 44 to 13 with the Giants. San Francisco retired the number 44 in 1980 to honor Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.