5 paths for the Cardinals to acquire their ace (and when to pivot from each)

The Cardinals have backed themselves into a corner with their pursuit of a top-end starter. Here are the paths they need to go down to acquire one.
Republic of Korea v Japan - Baseball - Olympics: Day 12
Republic of Korea v Japan - Baseball - Olympics: Day 12 / Koji Watanabe/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Cardinals' first two offseason moves should narrow their focus onto the top-end of the pitching market. Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson were brought in to provide the Cardinals with "reliable" innings over the course of a 162-game season, but they still lack the talent at the top of their rotation that is needed to make real noise in October.

Between now and the Winter Meetings, which occur December 4th-7th in Nashville, the Cardinals need to develop a game plan for how they are going to go about getting their ace for 2024. I strongly believe they still need to acquire two top-end arms, but the more likely scenario is they acquire one and then focus on filling out their bullpen.

The reason I same game plan here is because the Cardinals cannot afford to go into the Winter Meetings, and frankly, the rest of the offseason, with only one plan in mind. It's emparative that the club prepares itself for every possible situation, and is able to pivot between the top arms available on the market in order to secure one for 2024.

Obviously, there are some options that would be better than others, but the Cardinals cannot bank on "Plan A" working and not have any backup options in case it fails. To play a bit of spoiler here, if "Plan A" is Yoshinobu Yamamoto, they need to go all-in on him and do everything in their power to acquire him. But, with that being said, they could outbid the market on him, and Yamamoto could still choose to play elsewhere, or a few other things could happen that I'll point out soon.

What I have aimed to do is develop different plans for the Cardinals' to acquire their front-line starter, and also identified scenarios for when they may need to "pivot' to Plan B or Plan C. Now, before you go bonkers about them getting their Plan B or Plan C option, almost all of these scenarios involve them going after front-line starter, but the routes to get them and talent level have helped me order these plans. Also, these are plans I think the Cardinals themselves are weighing.

As frustrating as the Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson signings were, I think most of us can agree the Cardinals do not think they can sell us on this rotation without at least one top-end starter being acquired. Reporting seems to indicate they know that as well.

So, with all of that being said, here are 5 paths I have laid out for the Cardinals to go out and acquire their ace this winter, and how to decide when they may need to "turn their attention elsewhere".