Early Wednesday morning, the Cardinals traded pitcher Mike Leake to the Seattle Mariners in return for minor-league shortstop Rayder Ascanio, international cap space totaling $750,000 and cash considerations. Leake is the second Cardinals pitcher to be traded to the Mariners this season, after Marco Gonzales.
This move was mostly done because of the contract connected to Leake. Back in 2015, the Cardinals signed Leake to a five-year, $80 million deal which also included a no-trade clause (something that was waived during the trade process).
In the end, the 29-year old leaves the team finishing with a record of 16-24 and an ERA over 4.15.
Now, with Leake gone, one of the Cardinals’ top priorities in the pitching department has to be re-signing starter Lance Lynn.
In a year full of inconsistency within the starting rotation, the 30-year old Lynn has been one of the more consistent pieces, and one of the brightest ones as well. Heading into September, he is 10-6 with a 3.14 ERA and has struck out 132 batters in 157.2 IP. This is his sixth season in baseball (all with the Cardinals) and has never finished a season with a losing record.
It’s already set that Carlos Martinez will return as the “ace” in the rotation, with young stars such as Luke Weaver and Alex Reyes, who is recovering from Tommy John Surgery, returning. Jack Flaherty is also a strong possibility to be a featured member of the big league rotation.
That leaves three pitchers: Adam Wainwright, who is due $19 million, Michael Wacha, who will be in Year 2 of arbitration, and Lynn, who can walk away in 2018. As much as it may hurt many to say, Wainwright is not playing what he’s worth. Sports are a business first, and on the business side, all signs point to either trying to trade away Wainwright, or let him go.
St. Louis will also have to look at whether to try and keep Wacha yet again, though the price tag isn’t nearly as big on him.
As for Lynn, this has been his comeback season (after undergoing Tommy John surgery) and has made quite the impact, being one of the quiet leaders and reliable pitchers on a team that struggled with pitching all season long.
It remains to be seen if the Cardinals will end up attempting to re-sign Lynn, and what the details of the contract would be. But it’d be in their best interests to do so, and soon.