Trade #4 - The Cardinals become World Series contenders
Cardinals receive: OF Luis Robert Jr. and RHP Dylan Cease
White Sox receive: OF Jordan Walker, 2B Nolan Gorman, RHP Tink Hence, OF Victor Scott II, RHP Gordon Graceffo
Here's the true blockbuster deal - bringing both Robert and Cease to St. Louis to propel the Cardinals into true World Series contender status.
Sure, the Cardinals would have to make a few more moves to shore up the pitching, no doubt. But they'd add an All-Star bat and MVP contender in Robert to the middle of their order along with an ace for the top of their rotation in Cease. The two of them combined would make $20 million in 2024, leaving the Cardinals with an additional $45 million to spend this offseason, and that number could rise even more with trades of guys like Tyler O'Neill or Tommy Edman.
Bringing in Robert and Cease would come with a massive price tag though. I do not see how the Cardinals can pull this off without Walker or Nootbaar at the center of this deal. Walker seems to be the easier sell here, as he has the ceiling of a player the caliber of Robert but is still just 21 years old. Why would the Cardinals even entertain giving up Walker? Well, Robert is the tier of player you hope Walker can become. If Robert was on a short-term deal or getting paid a ton of money, this would be a harder sell. But Robert is locked up for another four years on a team-friendly deal and is a surefire star already. The Cardinals at the very least have to think about this for a while.
I don't think I'd be comfortable giving up Walker and Gorman in a deal, mainly because I'm just really high on both guys. Sure, Robert probably makes the Cardinals better in 2024, but I think Walker is on the path to being a perennial All-Star, and Gorman has already shown he can be one of the best power bats in the game when he's right.
But say the Cardinals go down this path, they instantly have the best top-6 hitters in baseball with Donovan/Goldschmidt/Robert/Arenado/Contreras/Nootbaar, and they have their top-of-the-rotation starter with money to spend. Even if I think I'd pull the trigger on that, I see the reason why some would.
As much as I love Scott II, Hence, and Graceffo, having Robert and Cease makes them more expendable. Now, I'd much rather go down the path of having all of those prospects and young bats and just spending to get the arms the Cardinals need. But I also am a fan of going after Cease if it looks more like the first package than this one. As fun as Robert would be to trade for, I just think the Cardinals are better off holding onto the extra pieces that it would take to acquire both. I'm content with just aiming for Cease.