If the Colorado Rockies are going to make a serious bid for a run at the NL West this year, they will need better starting pitching. The Rockies rank 13th in the NL in starting pitcher ERA at 4.26 and can’t expect to do anything but fall farther behind the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers if the rotation isn’t upgraded.
Although much of the ERA of the Rockies’ starters plays into the hitter-friendly environs of Coors Field, there are hitters’ ballparks — like Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati — where quality starting pitchers can offset the park factor.
Mike Leake is among three primary starters for the Cincinnati Reds who will be free-agent eligible after the end of the 2015 season. The other two — Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos — are absolute musts for the Reds at the front end of the rotation if the Reds are going to make a bid for any kind of postseason run over the next two years.
Leake is not a must for the Reds. He is a solid No. 4 for the Reds when the rotation is fully healthy and he stands to make more than $9 million next year in his final year of salary arbitration eligibility. The Reds will most likely lose both Cueto and Latos to free agency after 2015, but the loss of those two doesn’t justify another Homer Bailey-type six-year, $105-million extension for Leake.
Now is the time for both the Rockies and Reds to consider a trade for Leake. The Reds could pick up versatile infielder/outfielder Charlie Culberson, left-handed hitting corner infielder Ryan Wheeler and right-handed power hitter Kyle Parker in exchange for Leake.
While the Rockies would benefit from acquiring Leake immediately, the Reds would be to add much better infield depth to their active roster right now and provide less expensive competition for playing time in future years on the left side of the infield and left field.