2024 free agent pitchers the St. Louis Cardinals could target

A lot of money is coming off the books for the Cardinals after the 2023 season, and they desperately need roster help. What areas and players can management target for improvement?

Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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Most recently, John Mozeliak made it very clear that the St. Louis Cardinals will be selling at the deadline. He also stated in an interview on Monday that pitching would be the focus of the offseason. The front office's plan for 2023 and beyond appears to be comprised of two parts: trade expiring contracts at the deadline and spending on pitching in the offseason.

2024 should be a year that management really makes a push to contend. Paul Goldschmidt and Tyer O'Neill will be free agents after next season. Some minor leaguers are coming quickly through the ranks, but there are impending free agents that management should empty their bank accounts for.

Let's first take a look at players who will be leaving the team via free agency. This article will make two bold (and hopefully untrue) assumptions: the Cardinals don't trade any impending free agents and they don't extend any of these players. Adam Wainwright, Jordan Montgomery, Drew VerHagen, Jack Flaherty, Chris Stratton, and Jordan Hicks will all be free agents after the 2023 season. Those five players' salaries add up to just over $40 million off the books.

Arbitration-eligible players such as Tyler O'Neill, Tommy Edman, Ryan Helsley, Andrew Knizner, and Genesis Cabrera (recently designated for assignment, replaced by Ryan Tepera on a league-minimum contract) will probably balance each other out as O'Neill will more than likely see a pay cut, Edman will see a slight raise, and the other three will stay close to their current salaries for next year.

Nolan Arenado's contract does become a little more expensive for the Cardinals despite going down by $3 million. Colorado is lessening its coverage of the contract from 2024 on. All other contracts the team has remain equal for 2024.

This leaves the organization with around $35-$40 million to play with this offseason, assuming their payroll stays where it currently is. That is enough money to sign at least one starting pitcher and other supplemental pieces (bullpen, primarily). The team doesn't need its typical bench players, as Juan Yepez, one of the four outfielders, Paul DeJong, Masyn Winn, and Andrew Knizner/Ivan Herrera will all provide strong support for the starters.

Let's identify five free-agent starters that the Cardinals can and should target this upcoming offseason. All stats are accurate as of 7/17.