St. Louis — Minutes after his contract with the Cardinals was announced, Mike Leake was looking ahead to rivalry games against the Cubs.
“Honestly,” he said Tuesday, “I wouldn’t mind taking them down.”
Leake and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract, a move St. Louis officials hope boosts its chances to win a fourth straight National League Central title.
“When we make decisions, it is about performance,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “We heard nothing but positives.”
Leake described the Cardinals as a “dynasty.” Before last season, St. Louis had been to the NL Championship Series or deeper four consecutive years.
Leake gets $12 million next year, $15 million in 2017, $17 million in 2018, $16 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020. The deal includes an $18 million mutual option for 2021 with a $5 million buyout. Leake also receives a full no-trade provision.
During his news conference, Leake raised a No. 8 jersey, the number he wore at Arizona State.
“I was looking for some place to call home,” Leake said. “They were willing to work with us and we were willing to work with them.”
Because Leake was traded during last season, the Cardinals will not have to forfeit a compensatory draft pick. They’ve traded a number of young pitching prospects the past few seasons, including Shelby Miller, Tyrell Jenkins and Rob Kaminsky.
A 28-year-old right-hander, Leake is 64-52 with a 3.88 ERA in six big league seasons. He was 11-10 with a 3.70 ERA for Cincinnati and San Francisco last season, totaling 30 starts and 190 innings.
Cardin als ace Adam Wainwright, who returned late in the season from a torn left Achilles tendon, heads a rotation that includes Carlos Martinez, who was sidelined in September by a shoulder injury but is anticipated to be ready for spring training. Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha also are expected to start, and lefties Marco Gonzales, Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney could earn rotation spots.
“I think we can be the best,” Leake said. “If they name me the No. 5 guy, that’s fine with me.”
St. Louis failed in efforts earlier this offseason to retain outfielder Jason Heyward and add pitcher David Price.
Mozeliak said talks with Leake began about a week-and-a-half ago. Leake had put a priority on Arizona, where he lives, but the Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke and acquired Shelby Miller from Atlanta.
Smoltz promoted at Fox
Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz has been promoted to Fox’s lead baseball analyst and will work alongside play-by-play man Joe Buck, displacing Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci.
Smoltz (Lansing Waverly), whom the Tigers drafted in the 22nd round in 1985 and traded to the Braves for Doyle Alexander two years later, was a first-ballot pick for the Hall of Fame this year. He won the 1996 NL Cy Young Award. He has been a Fox analyst the last two seasons.
Network spokesman Dan Bell said Fox officials were discussing different roles with Reynolds, who also works for the MLB Network, and Verducci, who also works for the MLB Network and Sports Illustrated.
Around the horn
A person familiar with the negotiations says outfielder Alejandro De Aza and the Mets have agreed to a one-year, $5.75 million contract, pending a physical. The deal contains an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses. De Aza, 31, bats left-handed and could platoon in center field with Juan Lagares.
De Aza batted .262 this year with seven homers — all off right-handers — and 35 RBIs in 365 plate appearances for Baltimore, Boston and San Francisco.
New York has been seeking an outfielder in place of Yoenis Cespedes, who became a free agent after helping the Mets reach the World Series for the first time since 2000.
Fox made the announcement Tuesday. Network spokesman Dan Bell said Fox was discussing different roles with Reynolds, who also works for the MLB Network, and Verducci, who also works for the MLB Network and Sports Illustrated.
... Left-hander Ross Detwiler agreed to a minor league contract with the Indians and will attend big league spring training. Cleveland also released third baseman Chris Johnson.
Detwiler, who turns 30 on March 6, was 1-5 with a 7.25 ERA this year in seven starts and 34 relief appearances for Texas and Atlanta.