If they do that, then they can focus on lower-cost options in free agency. James Paxton is one of the lower-cost options available.
In what is likely his final year with the Red Sox, the veteran left-hander has enjoyed a bounceback campaign in 2023. He's 6-2 in his 13 starts with a 3.34 ERA and has recorded 80 strikeouts. He's even averaging over 10 per nine innings.
Now, there is a slight risk with Paxton. He has dealt with more than his fair share of injuries over the years, which is a tad concerning. However, he's proven that when healthy, he can be a force. Perhaps the Cardinals could gamble on him and sign him to a one or two-year deal. Regardless, John Mozeliak is going to have his work cut out for him this winter.