Giants Trade Mella & Duvall for Mike Leake

Mike Leake, your newest SF Giant.
Mike Leake, your newest SF Giant.

Just when we started to wonder if the Giants were going to fall silent at the deadline (amid lots of promising dialogue from Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean & even Bruce Bochy), the talks heated up quickly last night and landed them Reds righty Mike Leake. Here are a few thoughts on the deal.

I absolutely love this deal for the Giants. No, Leake is not Cole Hamels, who the Giants apparently made a strong push for. No, Leake is not David Price, who realistically probably had very little chance of becoming a Giant anyway. To me though, Leake is a guy to get excited about in his own right. He’s a 6 year MLB vet and he’s only 27. How many players can you say that about? Sure, he’s technically a rental player, but we’ve heard all about him growing up a Giants fan, and Baggs made it pretty apparent the Giants have wanted him for a while. If Leake has success over the next two months in San Francisco (I believe he will), it seems very realistic to me that he’ll be a Giant for the next 5 years.

I said last week this season reminded me of 2012 in that the Giants seemed a a piece short of having a very good club (they needed a hitter in 2012, starting pitcher this year). I suggested Jeff Samardzija, a solid player who’d never earned a long-term contract, as a possible trade-and-extend candidate. Turns out Mike Leake was the guy, and I’d love it if he decided to stay with us for a while.

A couple more notes on Leake. He’s a sinkerballer who should give the Giants gold-glove caliber infield plenty of opportunities to show off. His numbers don’t jump out at you at first glance, but you have to remember he’s spent his whole career in the most lively yard outside of Colorado. This season alone, he’s a 2.28 pitcher on the road, as opposed to 4.93 at home. Think he’s excited about coming to AT&T Park? He’s durable, he’s consistent, and he was good enough that he didn’t spend a SINGLE DAY in the minors. He was a top 10 pick and an absolute legend at Arizona State. Oh, and he can hit! Yeah, I guess you could say I’m excited to bring him in.

The Giants parted with Keury Mella and Adam Duvall, and I’ve seen some frustration about giving up Mella. As someone who’s followed (and really liked) Mella since his first days coming over from the DSL, I’ll give you my take. I think Mella is a solid prospect. If I hadn’t been so high on Kyle Crick last year, I would have rated Mella #1 in the system, just as MLB.com did a few days ago.

To me, Mella is not the top prospect in this system at this point, despite what people read online. It’s obvious the Giants value Tyler Beede higher, and I wager they put guys like Christian Arroyo and Mac Williamson right up there as untouchable types for them as well. Would I have rather seen another pitcher dealt than Mella? Of course. Mella is an MLB arm. He always has been for me. But his delivery isn’t clean, he’s had some shoulder scares, and his results have been a bit inconsistent for someone with a 96 mph sinker in A-ball. I wish him well, but I can’t confidently project him as a pitcher who will have a better career than Mike Leake at this point.

A few people have suggested to me that Adam Duvall should have started for the Giants. I don’t see it that way. They definitely gave him an opportunity to show what he could do as a 3B (a very quick look, no doubt), but they decided he wasn’t fit to play the position. So he’s purely a 1B in their eyes. While he just may have more raw power than Brandon Belt, his defense and ability to put the ball in play certainly can’t match up to Belt. Personally, I’m surprised the Reds took Duvall in this deal, as they’ve already got franchise players at both infield corners.

If Duvall can find a way to get some playing time in Cincy, he should love hitting in that park. I saw his power firsthand just two nights ago, and it’s real. I would love to see him get a chance to DH for a rebuilding AL club, but for now he’ll try to catch on with the Reds. There were no plans for him in SF, so hopefully this move is better for him in the long run.

Again, I really love this deal for the Giants, who have made so many “ho-hum” deadline deals that have turned to gold in the past few years. Despite Leake not being in the same class as Price & Hamels, I think his impact on this club could be tremendous over the next couple months. I’m thrilled Evans bolstered the rotation, and I can’t wait for Leake to put the jersey on. Obviously I wish Mella and Duvall all the best.

Thanks for reading, and go Giants!

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9 thoughts on “Giants Trade Mella & Duvall for Mike Leake”

  1. Nice post! I love Leake a lot more than the Shark, he has a career of success, even in Cincy, Shark just has that one season, really. I like him better than Latos as well.

    Yes, agree, Leake is no Hamels or Price, but is still a great acquisition. And I have to believe that he will sign with the Giants, they like him, he likes them, he does not sound like a money grubbing player (i.e. not affiliated with Boras).

    I see why people liked Mella, but I was never that enamored. So I was happy to see him being the one traded to get Leake. Duvall seems like a nice guy, but no fit with our team, seems to really be more of an AL DH type, so surprised Reds wanted him, but that’s OK since that got the trade done. I suspect they just wanted another trading chip, plus kick the tires and see what they can do with him.

    1. Thanks OGC. The Giants always talk about doing their “due diligence” on these types of deals, and it totally shows. They didn’t get the big prize, so instead grabbed a “pitcher” who they have admired for years, and a guy who apparently has mutual respect. I like the move and hope he keeps putting up lines like he has over the last month.

  2. Leake is basically Hudson in his prime.Similar size and arsenal.Better hitter.Great job by our staff making this move.

  3. I said the second we signed Aoki.He’s a bench player.His bat and speed are valuable off the bench.He looks lost out there.Lets be honest.A lot of the catches he makes are lucky.We can’t be given away free runs in a pennant race.

    Biagini left after 1 batter in the 2nd.Could be an injury.

    1. Can’t forget about the early part of the season when Aoki was settling the table every night. I’d still bat him leadoff over Pagan without hesitating. His defense isn’t stellar, but he usually makes the play…

  4. Aoki has a 2.3 defensive fWAR this year. I find the notion that his catches are “lucky” a little ridiculous.

    About Leake: as you point out, CC, his road ERA this year is 2.28, which is slightly better than Price’s. I see no reason at all to think that for the rest of the regular season he won’t be just as beneficial to the Giants as Price would have been. Over time, he’s not likely to be up to Price’s level, but Price wouldn’t have been a Giant over time, so seasons after this one aren’t relevant for this comparison.

    1. Totally agree, and even if Aoki were just average defensively, he has been a superlative leadoff hitter for us, better than Pagan has ever been.

      However, I do think that Aoki could sit more often, because he’s not the best hitter against RHP for some reason. So I would be fine with Belt seeing LF playing time when Posey is taking 1B breather against RHP.

  5. I did have Mella as my #1 prospect coming into this year. (I gave up on Crick last year, I am beginning to have some doubts he’ll even make it as a reliever.) Mella has amazing stuff from what little I’ve seen of him on YouTube, MiLB, etc., and I thought that if his delivery could be tweaked to reduce arm strain, he’d have a good at making it and prospering.

    BUT, I don’t forget that only 3 of a team’s 10 top-prospects ever make in the majors. And even then half of them are average or worse. So, I don’t get upset about trading prospects as most of them are just going to fail to make the club or have anything but an average/marginal career.

    And that’s despite the high hopes. Like the high hopes we’ve had for many ‘top-prospects’ that have ultimately failed. A perfect example is Gary Brown who was #1 two years running and is now on his third AAA club of the year and it’s looking pretty grim from him.

    1. Hey Moses. Though I failed to mention it in the actual post (I should have), I do believe Mella’s upside is as great as any player in the organization. At this point I place more risk on him than guys like Beede & Arroyo, & that was the primary reason for me knocking him down a couple notches.
      You nailed it on the odds of prospects “making” it. And sometimes we aren’t even sure what making it really means. The best example for me is still that Beltran/Wheeler deal. To me, the only reasons (so far) that it didn’t work out for the Giants are they didn’t reach the postseason, and Beltran failed to re-sign. I still don’t think we can say whether Wheeler has “made it” or not, and that was 4 years ago! There’s a solid chance that by the time Mella makes his mark in the majors, Leake has been a cog in the Giants rotation for years… You just never know.

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