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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Trade for Dylan Cease

It seems very likely that the White Sox will move on from Dylan Cease this offseason, and the Cardinals should be one of the teams making offers to the White Sox.

Cease is estimated to make about $8.8 million in arbitration in 2024, and has one more year of team control in 2025. He doesn't break the bank for St. Louis financially, which would still give them the flexibility to add high-leverage bullpen arms without going over budget.

Because of the talent that Cease has and the control he has left, the price will be high to acquire him. It sounds like the Dodgers and Braves are two teams who are already aggressively pursuing his services, and teams like the Cubs, Reds, Orioles, Red Sox, Giants, Astros, Phillies, and Mets could all find themselves making offers as well.

I've already compiled different trade offers for Cease on the site, and any of those packages would be painful to cough up. But if the Cardinals value getting a front-line starter who eats innings and won't cost them a fortune financially over the next two seasons, Cease makes all of the sense in the world.

Something else that needs to be noted is that the Cardinals now enter trade negotiations from a position of leverage for the rest of this offseason. If the Cardinals tried to trade for Cease without a guy like Gray in their rotation or even the innings eaters in Lynn and Gibson, the White Sox would know the Cardinals have to get a deal done, and could strong-arm them in trade talks. Now the Cardinals can genuinely walk away from the table and feel okay, something that allows them to not have to outbid themselves in trades.

Now, like I said before, it's still going to be pricey to get Cease. With other clubs bidding on him, the Cardinals will likely have to put one of Brendan Donovan or Nolan Gorman into the deal along with prospects to secure a deal. I doubt a deal centered around Edman and prospects gets it done, but who knows?

I think it's more likely that the Cardinals would rather be aggressive in getting another arm in a deal that does not require them giving up Donovan or Gorman, so if Cease requires that and they can get a different option instead, I think they move on from Cease talks. But if Cease is on their mind, they have the pieces to get the deal done.