The St. Louis Cardinals woke up Wednesday morning five games behind the Cubs in the National League Central.

With just over a month left to play in the 2017 regular season, the Cardinals are putting emphasis on the future, even if they're not fully throwing in the towel.

Wednesday morning, the Cardinals traded starting pitcher Mike Leake to the Seattle Mariners:

Leake, 29, signed a five-year, $80 million deal with the Cardinals before the 2016 season. He's made 56 starts in a Redbird uniform over the last two years, posting a 4.46 ERA. He is 7-12 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.325 WHIP in 154 innings in 2017.

The move doesn't hurt the Cardinals a ton for the rest of this season, as they still have five solid starters once Adam Wainwright returns from the disabled list.

It also frees up $55 million in cash for the Cardinals as they enter the offseason, putting them in a position to go hard in free agency or on the trade market. Or maybe they're opening up salary to acquire somebody (*cough* Justin Verlander *cough*) before the waiver deadline? 

The Cardinals just blew out the Brewers Tuesday night, doing the Cubs a favor as Milwaukee fell 3.5 games back in the division.