The Diamondbacks are declining their 2021 options over right-handers Mike Leake, Hector Rondon and Junior Guerra, general manager Mike Hazen announced to reporters (Twitter link via Steve Gilbert of MLB.com). Leake’s five-year, $80MM contract (originally signed with the Cardinals) carried an $18MM club option with a $5MM buyout. Rondon’s one-year, $3MM deal included a $4MM club option that will instead be bought out for $500K. Guerra’s $3.5MM club option is being bought out for $100K, but he’ll remain under club control via arbitration.
Leake, who’ll turn 33 in a couple weeks, didn’t pitch in 2020 after becoming the first of several veterans to opt out of the season due to health and safety concerns. He made 10 starts for the D-backs in 2019 after coming over from the Mariners via trade, pitching to a 4.35 ERA with a 27-to-8 K/BB ratio in 60 innings.
Leake’s five-year deal didn’t at all go how the Cardinals envisioned — they ate a sizable portion of the deal to facilitate a trade to Seattle just a year and a half into the contract — but he was rather solid from 2017-19 under the deal. Leake made 94 starts in that time and logged a collective 4.19 ERA through 568 2/3 frames. He’s never been one to miss many bats, but Leake typically has excellent control and ranked sixth among all MLB pitchers in games started from 2011-19.
Rondon, once the Cubs closer, enjoyed a solid 2018-19 run with the Astros before scuffling through a disastrous 2020 season in Arizona. He tallied 20 innings of work but was clobbered for a 7.65 ERA in what will go down as his lone season with the team. In those 20 frames, Rondon yielded 17 earned runs on 25 hits (six homers) 11 walks with 23 strikeouts. He still has a career 3.49 ERA and 3.63 FIP even in spite of this year’s woeful results, so he should be able to get another look somewhere in 2021, his age-33 season — though it’d likely have to come on a non-guaranteed deal.
Guerra, who’ll turn 36 in January, notched a tidy 3.04 ERA in 23 innings this past season, although his 21-to-15 K/BB ratio and 5.03 SIERA tell another story. Guerra was a frequent contributor for the Brewers prior to signing in Arizona, as he pitched to a combined 3.78 ERA in 416 2/3 frames with Milwaukee from 2016-19. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a possible $2.8MM salary for Guerra via arbitration, and if the D-backs feel similarly, it’s not a surprise that they opted not to pay the full freight of his 2021 option.