Sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto
For a few days there, all hope of a Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing felt lost because of the money the Cardinals gave Sonny Gray. Now, I still don't think it's the likeliest outcome for St. Louis, but I fully expect them to remain active in the Yamamoto sweepstakes, and depending on how things go, they could still find themselves as one of the finalists after the Winter Meetings.
One of the fears I had with the Cardinals waiting out the Yamamoto market was them coming up totally empty-handed. If they stayed in till the very end with him and he signed elsewhere, most of the top arms would likely be gone by the time he signs, leaving the Cardinals in the worst possible position. Now with Gray and depth in the fold, they could wait out this process, see if they are the lucky suitors, and if not, they pivot and spend on other items now or wait till the deadline.
When I talked to Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat on the "Noot News Podcast", he said there are people within the Cardinals front office who are screaming for Yamamoto. Perhaps this financial flexibility was created so they could still see that process through. You can check out my full conversation with Jones, who gave even more insight on the Yamamoto connections, below.
Even after signing Gray and the baseball world believing Gray's salary for 2024 was $25 million, there was no one coming out and saying the Cardinals were for sure out on Yamamoto. The tea leaves just seemed to point in that direction, but honestly, they had done too much legwork to make it a possability to just completely rule it out.
Now that scenario is right back on the table, and I think it's their dream scenario if their meetings with Yamamoto go well.
Now, do I think it's the most likely scenario? Probably not. Even if the Cardinals put their best foot forward, we do not know what Yamamoto will choose to do. A large-market team could give him a godfather offer that the Cardinals cannot compete with, or he could spurn a strong offer from St. Louis to play in a big city. All of that remains to be seen.
There is a scenario though that just seems to make perfect sense on the trade market, and it's the final possibility we'll explore in this story.