ARLINGTON, Texas – And now all Mike Leake can do is to wait for a phone call from general manager Jerry Dipoto that he seems resigned to believe will never come.
“I’m still a Mariner,” he said. “I’m here to pitch. At this point, I will plan on being a Mariner for the rest of the year.”
That outlook comes from yet another failed attempt by the Mariners to move him with the Major League Baseball trade deadline looming. Leake came into Tuesday morning uncertain as to whether he would make his scheduled start against the Rangers at Globe Life Park.
“There was a chance I was going to get traded,” he said. “So I kind of laid low. But I ended up pitching.”
Leake delivered a decent start for a while, allowing five runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched in what would eventually be an 8-5 win for the Mariners. He allowed just one run in the first five innings, but fell apart in the sixth.
“They started making adjustments and my pitches weren’t getting off the plate as much as I’d like,” he said.
If the Mariners had any legitimate interest in Leake from other teams, he would have never taken the mound in the blistering 100-degree heat for his scheduled start. And even a hint of interest would have put him on a limited pitch count just to show a possible trade partner that he is healthy.
Instead he threw 89 pitches in the outing.
How close was the deal? Leake wasn’t certain. But it had gotten far enough that the organization had asked him if he’d waive his no-trade for a specific team before proceeding with further trade talks. Leake wouldn’t reveal the team, but said he was willing to accept the trade.
“I did,” he said.
But when he wasn’t contacted in the hours leading up to first pitch, Leake just assumed the deal had fallen through. It happens often throughout the course of a season and more often as the trade deadline nears.
“Nothing really came to fruition,” he said.
To be fair, Leake has never openly demanded a trade or even asked to be traded. But he understands his place in an organization that is trying to rebuild and reset a roster with younger players. And he’d prefer to move to situation where the postseason was a focus.
The Mariners’ sixth straight win was still overshadowed by the mania of the trade deadline. While they were sweating through nine innings and their uniforms, a trade deadline that had been largely uneventful and uninteresting turned crazy. Rangers reliever Chris Martin was traded to the Braves in the third inning of the game. But the big commotion and Twitter fury was caused by a three-team trade between the Reds, Indians and Padres that featured Trevor Bauer going to the Reds and Yasiel Puig to the Indians. Puig was in the midst of a melee with the Pirates when the news broke.
Maybe the fact that Bauer and Marcus Stroman, who was traded to the Mets, were dealt to non-contending teams might help the Mariners push Leake to someone in desperate need of starting pitching. The Brewers are still in search of a starter. Sources indicated the Mariners will make the deal attractive by eating a fair amount of the money owed to Leake next season — $11 million in salary and a $5 million buyout. And in the end that might not be enough. Leake is still a back-of-the-rotation starter that relies on command and not stuff with a healthy amount of money owed to him. Is that worth the money or a prospect?
In a buyers’ market, teams are still being choosy. Perhaps that will change in the hours leading up to Wednesday’s 1 p.m. PT deadline as general managers realize this is their only chance to acquire players with the eradication of the August waiver trades.
“There’s still a possibility, I’m sure,” Leake said of being traded. “But as of now I’m going to look at it as I’m not getting traded.”
The Mariners grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Domingo Santana, another player being shopped to suitors, slammed a solo homer to deep right-center. It was Santana’s 21st of the season.
Like Leake, it appears that Santana might be with the Mariners through the remainder of the season.
A strained elbow on his throwing arm won’t allow him to play the outfield for the near future. And even when healthy, his defense is considered below average to poor. With an abundance of similar right-handed hitting corner outfielders with power, teams can look to hitters that aren’t complete liabilities on defense while still providing plenty of offense to fill their needs.
The Indians were one of the few teams interested in Santana. But they not only got Puig, but San Diego’s Franmil Reyes, another power-hitting outfielder, in that deal.
One player that isn’t getting traded or shopped because of a poison-pill clause in his contract that changes a $15-plus million club option into a player option in 2022 if he’s traded to another team is third baseman Kyle Seager. In a season cut short by surgery on his left hand and nagging discomfort in his right hand, Seager had one of his best games, going 3 for 5 and driving in four runs.
He made it 2-0 with a solo homer just over the wall in right-center. The ball actually was in the glove of center fielder Delino DeShields for a moment, but leaked out and over the wall for Seager’s ninth homer of the season.
“I was really happy, then really sad, and then really happy again,” Seager said.
He’s slowly starting to find a rhythm at the plate, hitting .355 (11 for 31) over his last eight games. At this point, he’s building for next season.
Seattle tacked on two more runs in the third inning on Daniel Vogelbach’s RBI single and a fielder’s choice from Tim Beckham.
The Rangers picked up their first run off Leake in the fourth inning when Nomara Mazara doubled with two outs and later scored on Rougned Odor’s RBI single to right.
It looked as though Leake might deliver another outing outing. But it wilted in the sixth inning. He allowed a leadoff home run to Danny Santana and later a two-run double to Odor. With two outs and a runner on second, manager Scott Servais took his first visit to the mound of the inning to chat with Leake. After a brief conversation, Servais let him stay in the game. The confidence in his starter wasn’t repaid. Leake gave up an RBI single to DeShields that tied the game at 5 and ended his night.
“Mike earned the right to stay out there and get through it,” Servais said.
Right-hander Sam Tuivailala entered the game and got the final out of the inning. For Tuivailala, it’s a return to the park where he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon just over a year ago.
The Mariners gave him a chance to get his first win of the season when Seager smashed a two-run triple into the right-center gap in the seventh. Tom Murphy later added an insurance run with a RBI single.
Given a three-run lead, Tuivailala worked a scoreless seventh to get credit for the win. Anthony Bass and lefty Roenis Elias, another trade candidate, closed out the game. Elias allowed a leadoff single, but then retired the next three batters to notch his 14th save of the season.