Pitcher Mike Leake has announced he will sit out this season. The veteran is making the decision based on health concerns surrounding how COVID-19 could affect him and his extended family. Jeff Passan was among the first to report the news early Monday afternoon.
Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Mike Leake is the first known major league player to opt out of the 2020 season, sources tell ESPN.
Leake was positioned to be fighting for a spot at the back end of the Diamondbacks' rotation. @SteveGilbertMLB first said Leake was opting out.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 29, 2020
Mike Leake to Opt-Out
The 32-year-old Leake pitched for both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners in 2019. He pitched a combined 197 innings with a 4.29 ERA, 127 strikeouts and 27 walks. He also won a gold glove for his effort on the field. Leake has slowly declined since he a regular with the Cincinnati Reds but he has been a consistent option for multiple franchises over his 10-year career.
The Oakland Athletics originally drafted Leake in the seventh round of the 2006 Draft but he decided to attend Arizona State. His performance in college helped make him the Reds’ first-round selection in the 2009 Draft. Leake has posted a career 4.05 ERA with 1231 strikeouts in 1829 innings across 296 starts. His 105 career wins are second-most wins of any pitcher drafted in 2009. Only Stephen Strasburg has more.
What This Means for the Future
Leake would have been fighting for a spot at the back of the DBack’s rotation during Arizona’s summer restart. His absence is not a huge factor for Arizona as it has one of the more interesting possible rotations with Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver leading the charge. He will be a free agent after the 2020 season. He can still be a productive fourth or fifth starter but the environment surrounding baseball will be his primary concern going into 2021.
The Washington Nationals also have two players opting-out to this point. Right-handed pitcher Joe Ross and infielder Ryan Zimmerman are also deciding to sit this season out. The 35-year-old Zimmerman could retire but it is unlikely he leaves after helping Washington win the 2019 World Series. More opt-outs are likely coming in the next weeks before Opening Day in late July.
Embed from Getty Images