1. Sign Nathan Eovaldi
As we mentioned above, simply extending Montgomery and doing nothing else wouldn't have changed much, but had they added a starting pitcher in the offseason, it would have.
No, the Cardinals were never going to sign Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, or Carlos Rodon. But they could have still signed someone that would have fit their price range, meaning they wouldn't have had to adjust their model too much, which granted they still haven't done.
The pitcher in question is Nathan Eovaldi, who emerged as an ace last season with the Rangers. Texas gave him two years and $34 million. It's certainly fair to ask, in what world is that out of the Cardinals' price range?
Texas relied heavily on the combination of Eovaldi and Montgomery last October, and if the Cardinals had them both in the same rotation, there could have been a parade in the heart of Downtown St. Louis after the World Series.
That's not a guarantee, but the Cardinals would have still been a formidable opponent in October.
And if he and Montgomery were both under contract for this year, the Cardinals would have only had to replace two starting pitchers, those being Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty. They could have still signed Sonny Gray and had their pick between Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson.
Gray, Montgomery, and Eovaldi leading the rotation would make the Cardinals legitimate World Series contenders.
Alas, past decisions have put them in this position.