The Cubs not only bolstered areas of need on their own team by signing John Lackey and Jason Heyward this winter, but it was a combo punch in that it also took the best starting pitcher and position player away from the rival St. Louis Cardinals.
The offseason hasn't gone the way the Cardinals would have liked, but they're now moving forward by signing starting pitcher Mike Leake to a reported five-year, $80 million deal that could be worth up to $94 million with a mutual option.
That's an average of $16 million a year for a pitcher with a 3.88 ERA and 1.271 WHIP over his career, further illustrating the price of pitching nowadays.
Leake, 28, is a solid pitcher, having made at least 30 starts in four straight seasons and posting a 36-30 record and 3.59 ERA over the last three seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. And the Cardinals have a knack for getting the most out of pitchers.
The Cardinals also needed help in their rotation with Lackey gone, Lance Lynn slated to miss the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and veteran Adam Wainwright returning from an Achilles injury.
Wainwright pitched out of the bullpen toward the end of the 2015 season, but should be ready to resume his role atop the Cardinals rotation at the start of 2016. Beyond him, manager Mike Matheny can slot in Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia, with Leake filling out the rotation.
Young left-handers Tyler Lyons and Marco Gonzales provide rotation depth for the Cardinals.
[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]
Leake has had success against the Cubs in his career, going 9-2 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.135 WHIP in 19 starts.