Mike Leake back to the Giants looking more likely (if we can believe recent reports)

The Winter Meetings! Where teams are hot on the trail of players … until, suddenly, they aren’t.

I always considered Yusmeiro Petit is a big starting pitcher when he wasn’t pitching out of the bullp … never mind. I get your point, Joel Sherman. And no disrespect intended to Petit, who was never truly appreciated unless he was pitching a near-perfect game or saving the Giants’ butts in the postseason … against the Nats, no less!

Focus, Berman.

Oh yeah, Mike Leake. The guy I — and most non-comatose Giants fans — figured would return to the team that traded for him at the deadline. He’s a decent hitter, he’s young (for a free agent), his arm has shown no obvious signs of wear-and-tear, and by all accounts he’d rather play in the National League for a West Coast team. His career ERA is a very average 3.88, his strikeouts-per-nine sit at a pedestrian 6.1 (and dipped to a pretty poor 4.7 in nine starts with the Giants), and he’s only passed the 200 innings mark once. This isn’t a guy with ace potential, but he’s dependable.

And, with this evening’s reports out of Nashville, his price could be falling.

The Giants are supposedly interested in lefty Wei-Yin Chen, but that could be Scott Boras trying to create perceived interest. The D-Backs probably aren’t interested in Leake after signing Zack Greinke for a fifth-billion dollars and trading way too much for Shelby Miller.

The Cardinals are another team that could target Leake. They’ve been sitting on the sidelines throughout the hot stove season thus far, but they aren’t exactly a West Coast team.

For the next five seconds/minutes/hours (depending on what comes across Tweetdeck), I’m going to expect the Giants to re-sign Leake at some point before the week is over. Was the open flirting with the Nats just Leake’s camp strategy to get the Giants to raise their offer? Evans made that “timing” remark on Leake when the Nats talk got going, then suddenly they had “interest” in Chen, a very comparable starter. Were the Giants signaling to Leake’s camp that they weren’t going to bid against themselves?

Or maybe the Nats are negotiating with Leake’s camp through the media to lower his number, and the Giants really have moved on to other pitchers. That’s the thing about the Winter Meetings, even the reporters in the know are getting steered by execs and agents who realize that negotiating through the media can be effective at times.

We’ll probably never know the whole truth, but I can’t shake this feeling that the Giants will end up with the guy we thought they’d end up re-signing all along. Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Jake Peavy, Matt Cain. If that’s next year’s rotation, they’re better off than they were last year, even if Cain is as useless in 2016 as he was in 2015. It’s not a rotation headlined by Bumgarner/Greinke (or Greinke/Bumgarner, if you prefer), but anyone following this team knew that Greinke was nothing more than a fever dream anyway.

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