After years of competing against the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike Leake is excited to finally be pitching for rather than against them.
“I was on the other side of the lines watching a team I had high thoughts for,” stated Leake during his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “I really enjoyed watching the Cardinals go about their business and how they’ve basically put together a dynasty in my opinion. Now that I’m a part of it, I can proudly say I’m a Cardinal.”
The right-hander agreed to a five-year deal with St. Louis after spending the early part of the off-season negotiating with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Length of contract was key.
“Arizona was an extremely at-home situation,” Leake, the former Arizona State product, explained. “It was my number one. Coming here has turned into my new number one. I feel like this is a place that is very family oriented and guys that seem to mesh very well together, so I saw it as a no-brainer coming into this organization.”
Talks between St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak and Leake’s agent, Dan Horwits, began about a week and a half ago.
“I think one of the things Mike was looking for was a place to call home,” said Mozeliak. “Rather than trying to do something that just didn’t make a lot of sense, obviously we decided to make the commitment of five years. We felt like that gives him the stability and candidly, it gives us somebody we can count on as well. It worked out I think addressing both mutual interests, made a lot of sense and so I think we were able to really bring everything to closure this past Friday.”
The contract does not include an opt-out clause and has a mutual option for 2021.
The 28-year old right hander went 11-1o in 30 starts with 190 innings pitched combined for Cincinnati and San Francisco last season. What spot he falls into the rotation with the Cardinals isn’t a concern.
“If they name me the Number-5 guy, it’s fine with me,” said Leake. “I want to pitch. I want to learn and I want to help everybody around me if I can. If that makes me Number-5, I’m the Number-5.”
One number that is certain is 8–Leake will wear the number on the back of his uniform for St. Louis.
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI