An extremely risky scenario but one that could be very real, the St. Louis Cardinals could allow Jack Flaherty to pitch these next two years in St. Louis and then bid with other clubs in free agency.
While in the past the club could have leaned on receiving a draft pick as compensation if Flaherty were to leave, the recent proposal from MLB during the lockout would see the elimination of draft compensation. While this is not official yet, now that it is on the table, the odds are extremely high. If Flaherty were to leave in free agency, the club would see their ace walk away for nothing.
This scenario very well could benefit the club though. If Flaherty falters in 2022 and/or 2023, the club would be able to give him a much more affordable contract, or let him leave without much of an issue. With the removal of draft pick compensation though, the club could easily become bidders themselves on other starters to replace Flaherty in 2023, such as Luis Castillo, Lucas Giolito, Tyler Glasnow, Aaron Nola, Julio Urias, Blake Snell, Shohei Ohtani, and many more names in a stacked 2023 free agent class.