The St. Louis Cardinals have made a deal with the Seattle Mariners to send veteran pitcher Mike Leake to Seattle in exchange for minor league shortstop Rayder Ascanio, the team announced. Along with Leake the Mariners also receive $750,000 in international cap space. The news of Leake being moved was first reported by Bob Nightengale, and the news was later confirmed by the Athletic and other baseball writers. The Cardinals made the official announcement around 11:00 CDT.

Leake's St. Louis departure

Mike Leake was signed with the Cardinals as a free agent prior to the 2016 season.

The deal was a five-year deal, which guaranteed $80 million with a no-trade clause and a mutual buyout option. Leake -- in his one and two-thirds seasons as a Cardinal -- did not progress like the team planned. He posted a 4.46 ERA, 1.322 WHIP, and 4.01 Fielding Independent Pitching in 56 starts. He started 2017 very well, but really fell in the second half, posting a 6.90 ERA with opponents batting .344 against him with a .497 slugging percentage. The deal was finalized after Leake waved his no-trade clause and approved the deal.

Leake is owed roughly $55 million more and the Cardinals were looking to dump some salary. The team itself has had a pretty mediocre year, despite being only 5.0 back of the first place Cubs in the NL Central.

Cardinals President John Mozeliak said that this move was intended to look forward to 2018 and work on creating more room for youth in the starting rotation. While they are not out of the division race with a month to go, it is clear that they are ready to start thinking about the years ahead. Mozeliak also stated that the main purpose of the trade was to clear money so they have more resources to improve the club in the future.

It is possible that they wanted to do this so it would be possible to re-sign Lance Lynn in the offseason and be able to target other free agents.

The piece they got in return is 21-year old Rayder Ascanio, a shortstop from Venezuela who has played in 111 minor league games this season. He is currently posting a .217/.295/.649 slash in three minor league levels in 2017 and is known for his defensive abilities more than his hitting.

Mariners end of the deal

Leake may have had his struggles in the second half, but getting a veteran pitcher with a change of scenery may pay off. While 14.0 out of the AL West, they will control Leake for a few more years and could possibly get use out of him in future years in attempts to make a playoff Run. The biggest thing the Mariners have to give up is paying for whatever they take on in his contract, without giving up a huge young asset in the trade.

This move is potentially really important for the Cardinals to get a struggling veteran off their payroll and focus on younger pitching moving forward.