St. Louis Cardinals: The Competition Revisited

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Chicago Cubs

Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When the Chicago Cubs lavished thirty-something utilityman Ben Zobrist with millions on December 8, I almost laughed. When it signed former St. Louis Cardinals starter John Lackey a day later, I shrugged. But when the team got former St. Louis Cardinals rightfielder Jason Heyward a week later, I stopped eating. Then I ate a lot.

The thing of it is, all of these signings are mere add-ons to a team that was already very good. Heyward represents the biggest jump — and a fascinating first look at how much a Major League team will pay for defense now. For the record, it’s $184 million.

The Cubs had the tenth best defensive efficiency ratio (.695) in baseball — the St. Louis Cardinals were 18th (.689) — and now with Heyward are better in that department. The signing of Zobrist allowed the team to finally shed themselves of Starlin Castro in a trade with the New York Yankees that yielded a very good bullpen arm in Adam Warren.

Oh, and by the way. The Cubs didn’t have to deal any of their young talent in the process. Which means they still have a guy like infielder Javier Baez to dangle at the trade deadline to acquire a key piece if they need it.

It hurts to admit it, but the Cubs look very, very good on paper. We’ll see how much that translates in live games.

Next: New York Mets