We are glad they did not trade for Juan Soto
This is the most controversial take on this list, but when we really consider this deal, I think it becomes clear that the Cardinals are better off having not acquired Soto. Yes, Soto is a generational talent. Yes, he is one of the best players in baseball. Yes, he would improve the current roster. Yes, there were plenty of reasons to advocate for this trade at the time. But, would Soto be enough to get this current team over the hump and into contention?
While it would be fun to watch Soto launch balls out of Busch Stadium, I contend that the answer is a resounding no! Juan Soto could not improve the Cardinals by 15 games, which is what it would require to make the postseason. Soto would be playing right field, and that's Jordan Walker's spot. Walker would have a more difficult time getting into the lineup with Soto here, except Walker wouldn't be in St. Louis! He'd have been included in the package to obtain Soto.
That package also would have required Tink Hence, Dylan Carlson, and potentially Brendan Donovan, Ivan Herrera, or Masyn Winn. It may also require another less advanced piece such as Ian Bedell or Cooper Hjerpe. This deal would have drained an already thinned-out farm system. It would have become incredibly different for the Cardinals to continue producing in-house talent.
Without Tink Hence or Cooper Hjerpe, the pitching problem feels significantly more overwhelming, as both have the potential to turn into legitimate front-of-the-rotation starters. There's another problem to consider too. Perhaps having Soto would have forced the Cardinals to go all-in in 2023. This would have meant holding on to Flaherty, Montgomery, and Hicks. In this scenario, they would be without much of their newly acquired pitching, including Tekoah Roby, Drew Rom, Adam Kloffenstein, and Zack Showalter. This further compounds the issues facing the club!
I haven't even mentioned how expensive Soto is! He's late in arbitration, meaning he likely costs teams upwards of $25-30MM. Oh, and the Padres have just one more year of control remaining. Then, Soto hits free agency, and keeping him is going to be incredibly expensive. By reaching the bigs at such a young age, Soto has guaranteed that he will hit free agency with lots of his prime remaining, thus he will be even more expensive than superstars usually are.
All things considered, passing on Soto was a great move.