#3 - Buy
While they may make moves that are more "buying" in nature (again, see more on that later), the overwhelming likelihood is they will not be buyers, at least not in the traditional sense of acquiring rental players.
Yes, the club badly needs starting pitching help. Names like Lucas Giolito, Eduardo Rodriguez, Marcus Stroman, Lance Lynn, and Rich Hill could all help improve the Cardinals' rotation for the rest of the year, but would they really look to bring in a guy who is about to hit free agency when their playoff odds are so low?
This team knows they cannot take their eyes off 2024 anymore. They still have an outside chance to make the playoffs this year, but their focus needs to be on helping this team get better for next season and beyond, rather than jeopardizing that for short-term gain.
If the club was meeting my expectations from before the season started, they'd have firm control of first place right now and be ready to add as much talent as possible. But they simply are the furthest thing from that right now, and cannot find themselves in bidding wars with true contenders in a seller's market.
In fact, not only should they not be contending with the contenders in this market for win-now pieces, they should be pawning theirs off to them, which takes us to the second most likely scenario.