Drastic Change #3 - Other valuable pieces are shopped at the deadline
Goldschmidt isn't the only name that would be shopped at the deadline if things went awry. Let's look at a few more names that I think could be on the move if the Cardinals are hitting the reset button:
With Masyn Winn being the long-term answer at shortstop, Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan locking down second base with Thomas Saggese on the way, and Victor Scott II dashing his way up to St. Louis, Tommy Edman would be a wise trade chip for the Cardinals to utilize to build up their farm system or retool the roster in another direction. Edman is a free agent after the 2025 season, so his value will only decrease the longer the Cardinals hold onto him.
Steven Matz is set to make $12.5 million in both 2024 and 2025, and if the form he found when he returned to the rotation last year is real, he'll carry value at this trade deadline for contenders looking to bolster their rotation and have another quality arm for the following season. Matz can pitch like a number three starter when he's healthy and has his stuff working, and at worst he's a good back of the rotation arm. Moving Matz would also save the Cardinals on payroll, something I'd imagine they'd want to do if they were rebuilding or retooling.
Things did not go according to plan for Giovanny Gallegos in 2023, but he's still a veteran arm with tons of experience in high-leverage situations, and every team is looking for bullpen help at the Trade Deadline each year. Gallegos would surely fit in on another club as another late-inning option and carries a $6.5 million club option for 2025 if the club wants to bring him back for another season.
While the Cardinals would not need to move a guy like Ryan Helsley at the trade deadline, his value will likely never be higher, like the aforementioned Edman. Helsley is also a free agent after the 2025 season, and with the way he's pitched the last two years, he'd be one of the most valuable trade chips available at the deadline. We've seen teams get desperate for top-end relievers who are rentals before, but arms like Helsley that also come with control as well could net the Cardinals a significant return
The argument to move Helsley would be that, even if the Cardinals want to compete in 2025, wasting another second half from an elite arm who you may not even resign after the following season would be poor resource management. Selling high on his value would make the most sense if the season was lost.
Other rental players (Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, and Andrew Kittredge)
If any of Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, or Andrew Kittredge are pitching well in 2024, they'll carry varying levels of value as well that the Cardinals could capitalize on. The Cardinals have a variety of young arms in Memphis who would benefit from big-league exposure in a lost season, so I doubt they'd feel the need to hold onto their veteran arms to just cover innings.
Let's discuss the Cardinals' third baseman on the next slide...