The St. Louis Cardinals are five games behind the Chicago Cubs with 30 games to go in their regular season, but they may have just turned their attention to the future instead of the present thanks to a trade Wednesday.
The deal sent pitcher Mike Leake to the Seattle Mariners, along with $750,000 in international signing money, in exchange for minor league shortstop Rayder Ascanio.
The move is widely seen as a deal that will have a significant impact on the Cardinals’ future financial flexibility. Leake is still owed $55 million over the next three seasons according to Spotrac, and getting rid of his salary could help the Cardinals in free agency.
There is also the question of whether or not the trade will hurt the Cardinals’ rotation in the short-term, signaling that they could be punting on the rest of the 2017 season. There could be validity to that, as losing a key veteran arm from the rotation is a problem, but the team will be getting Adam Wainwright back off the disabled list, and Luke Weaver has been strong in the rotation, striking out 10 batters in each of his last two starts.
Even still, the Cardinals are in a tough spot. They trail the Cubs by five games heading into action Wednesday, and they are five and a half games out of the second wild card spot in the National League, trailing the Colorado Rockies.