6 paths the Cardinals can take with newly reported financial flexibility

The Cardinals have more money to spend then we thought, as they've backloaded the contract of newly acquired Sonny Gray. What moves can they make now?

Aug 3, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches
Aug 3, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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Sign one of the "tier two or tier three" starting pitchers available

The Cardinals have signed three starting pitchers this offseason, why not a forth?

While the biggest fish on the pitching market still lingers (more on that later), names like Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell, Eduardo Rodriguez, Lucas Giolito, Marcus Stroman, and others are still lingering in free agency. Could the Cardinals pair one of them with Sonny Gray to give them a true 1-2 punch for 2024?

I am not putting all of those names in the same category of starting pitchers. Snell is the reigning Cy Young award winner, Montgomery is coming off an incredible season and playoff run, Rodriguez is setting himself up for a nice payday, and both Giolito and Stroman had rocky ends to their seasons. But for the sake of not making 15 different paths the Cardinals could do down, I'm lumping all of those names together here.

Montgomery and Snell are the two names that will likely get AAVs ranging anywhere from $24m-$28m a year, so they'd take up a signifcant portion of the Cardinals remaining budget. They both happen to offer the highest ceilings of this grouping as well, which is why you'd pay the premium.

Rodriguez, Giolito, and Stroman would all likely be netting something south of $24 million a year, with Rodriguez and Giolito especially being candidates to get less than $20 million per season.

The Cardinals could swing for Cy Young upside and add Snell to their staff. They could get a dependable lefty as their number two starter in either Montgomery or Rodriguez. They can pay Giolito or Stroman hoping their upside shines through. All of those things now make sense with the money they have leftover and the kind of rotation they have built.

I think this is very much on the table for St. Louis, but with so many teams in baseball needing starting pitching and the Cardinals being one of the teams who have already snagged three of those starters off the free agent market, I'm not sure they will want to try and outbid teams for one of those names specifically. Now when it comes to the trade market or that really big fish from Japan, I think there is a lot more smoke.