The team did sign Marco Estrada to a new two-year deal worth $26 million, but with David Price likely playing elsewhere next season and depth an issue for the franchise, adding a veteran free agent that won’t break the bank is a priority.
New general manager Tony LaCava has said the starting rotation will get some attention over the winter and adding some help to the back end of the bullpen is also needed. With nearly $116 million already spent on player salaries for 2016, it seems unlikely they can afford an ace and instead will look for mid-market value when choosing help for next year.
Several names have been linked in recent weeks, but the latest rumors of adding San Francisco Giants Mike Leake actually makes sense. The former first round pick of Cincinnati hasn’t been spectacular since entering the league, but he’s proven steady and the type of pitcher that can pitch upwards of 200 innings each season.
Last season the 28-year-old combined for 11 wins between the Reds and Giants with a solid ERA of less than 4.00. His career numbers of 64-52 and a 3.88 ERA in six MLB seasons are just the type of numbers that won’t cost the team a big salary, but productive enough to keep them competitive with the strong offense the team possesses.
A number of other free agents have been rumored to be on the Toronto Blue Jays radar, including Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir. Both of these pitchers have enough experience to help and like Leake, won’t hit $15 million plus in salary per year, but Leake is probably the best mid-range pitcher in this group and young enough to help this team for a good 4-6 years.