8 players the Cardinals need to consider trading if their season is over

The St. Louis Cardinals may be heading toward selling again at this year's trade deadline. If that's the case, these 8 players could be made available.
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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Nolan Arenado

Here's the flowchart of outcomes that I think leads to an eventual Nolan Arenado trade.

1. The Cardinals become sellers.
2. They trade Paul Goldschmidt.
3. Arenado wants out and the Cardinals are open to facilitating that move.

It really does feel that simple to me. I could see a world where a trade is too complicated and Arenado doesn't force the issue so he stays with the club to try and win again in 2026, but it's no secret that Arenado has also dreamed of playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and for years now the Dodgers have wanted to acquire him.

I'm not trying to say that Arenado is looking for the first ticket he can get to Los Angeles. Honestly, if that was the case, it would have happened last trade deadline when the Dodgers were trying to will that into existence or during the offseason. Heck, Arenado could have opted out of his contract two offseasons ago and signed with the Dodgers.

Still, if things don't work out in St. Louis, I do believe Arenado would be happy to return home to Los Angeles and join the superteam that has formed there in pursuit of his first World Series ring.

Arenado has been playing a bit better as of late, but his .741 OPS is still nowhere near his normal self. He's hit just two home runs this year, and his .390 SLG is the worst of his career since his rookie season. Arenado has rebounded in a big way defensively this season, helping recapture some of his value.

Arenado's contract is actually uniquely structured to fall in salary over the next few seasons. After making $35 million in 2024, his salary will drop to $32 million in 2025 and $27 million in 2026 before a big step back to $15 million in 2027. That contract is easier to take on than people would think, but there's still a chance the Dodgers would want the Cardinals to eat money on it, especially if they want any substantive prospects back.

If Arenado heats up this summer though, that could become a different story. But it's hard to imagine him being traded anywhere else but the Dodgers, and if Los Angeles knows that, it may be hard to get a good deal from them.

Trade fit: Los Angeles Dodgers