The Cardinals have traded starter Mike Leake, cash and international slot money to the Mariners for infielder Rayder Ascanio, as first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
St. Louis will reportedly send Seattle about $17 million in the deal, covering less than a third of the roughly $55 million owed to Leake through 2020.
Leake is in just the second year of a five-year, $80 million deal he signed with St. Louis before last season, and is owed $17 million in 2018, $16 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020 before an $18 million mutual option or $5 million buyout kicks in for 2021. Leake waived his full no-trade clause to facilitate the deal, which allows him to spend spring training in his hometown of Phoenix.
Leake is the latest major addition for a Mariners team that has been as active as anyone on the trade market in recent months, joining summer trade acquisitions David Phelps, Erasmo Ramirez, Marco Gonzales and Yonder Alonso. He will immediately slot into an injury-plagued rotation that is currently missing Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Drew Smyly, giving Seattle a proven veteran arm for the stretch run alongside Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo, Andrew Albers, Gonzales and Ramirez as healthy options.
Seattle currently sits three games out of an AL wild card spot but has struggled to gain ground with most of its top starters sidelined. The Cardinals were not known to be shopping Leake, but were willing to shed at least some of his contract as they prepare to make a run at re-signing righty Lance Lynn this winter.
Leake has worked to a 4.21 ERA and 6.0 K/9 in 26 starts for the Cardinals this season, though he’s seen his ERA rise in every month of the season and has worked to an ugly 8.88 ERA mark so far in August. He’s a veteran of eight seasons with the Reds (2010-15), Giants (2015) and Cardinals (2016-17).
Ascanio, 21, is a middle infielder who has hit .217/.295/.355 with nine homers across three levels this season. He has spent most of his year with Hi-A Modesto and was not ranked among MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Mariners prospects at the time of the deal.