Cubs improve rotation depth with John Lackey

The signing: Chicago Cubs sign 37-year-old John Lackey for a reported two years and $32 million.

The reason: While the Cubs' rotation ranked third in the National League in ERA in 2015, it was a little top heavy with Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester and ranked sixth in the league in innings. Adding another workhorse -- Lackey threw 218 innings in 2015, his highest total since 2007 -- means fewer innings needed from the bullpen. Also, a two-year contract works out perfectly for a club that has over $100 million left on Lester's contract and will likely be looking to re-sign Arrieta before he becomes a free agent in a couple years.

Lackey is coming off maybe the best season of his career after posting a 2.77 ERA with the St. Louis Cardinals. If there are any red flags, they may be Lackey's age and his 3.57 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) last year, well above that ERA figure. All his peripheral numbers were pretty similar to 2013 and 2014, when he posted ERAs of 3.52 and 3.82. Even if you attribute some of the lower ERA to good defense behind him, some regression is in order.

The impact: Well, first off, you're taking Lackey away from your division rival. Remember, Lance Lynn is already out for all of 2016 after Tommy John surgery, so the Cardinals are already down one starter, even given the return of Adam Wainwright. The Cubs now roll out a projected rotation like this:

1. Jake Arrieta

2. Jon Lester

3. John Lackey

4. Kyle Hendricks

5. Jason Hammel

Keep in mind that the Cubs' rotation was healthy in 2015, with four guys making 30-plus starts, one of just four teams with such stability. That allowed them to survive a lack of depth. Lackey still projects as an upgrade over last year's No. 5 starters -- Travis Wood, Dan Haren, Tsuyoshi Wada -- although those three were collectively OK, combining for a 4.29 ERA in 27 starts. More importantly, the Cubs now have better depth, with Wood pushed back to the bullpen/No. 6 starter role.

Finally, it keeps the coffers open to sign for a center fielder.

All isn't bad news for the Cardinals, however: The Cubs will lose a first-round pick for signing Lackey while the Cardinals pick up a compensation pick for losing Lackey. And the Cubs could get their own compensation pick if another team signs Dexter Fowler, so the Cubs likely just end up moving down a few slots in the draft.

Still, your move, St. Louis.