Analyzing the Cardinals 3 potential paths: aggressive, passive, or stuck in between

With the Hot Stove heated up and moves beginning to happen frequently, the Cardinals will have to decide whether or not they remain aggressive the rest of the offseason.
Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Cardinals began the offseason as the most active team in baseball, but now with names like Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto off the board, other competitors are catching up, or surpassing, their level of aggression.

The Dodgers still want to add starting pitching after signing Ohtani to a record deal. The Yankees are in on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and so are most of the contenders in baseball. The Braves continue to dominate the trade market. The Giants are shopping for a star. The Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rangers, Mariners, Cubs, Padres, Reds, and Diamondbacks are all hoping to improve in various ways as well.

Where the Cardinals go from here remains one of the most fascinating questions in all of baseball. Their swift moves so far have raised their floor significantly, helping them get back into playoff contention for 2024. But both locally and nationally, there is a desire to see John Mozeliak and the Cardinals' front office push the envelope just a little bit more.

Even after making three free-agent signings and trading Tyler O'Neill, the Cardinals have plenty of cash to work with. Their current payroll sits at around $171 million, which is under their 2023 Opening Day payroll, and they came into the offseason expecting it to push closer to $200 million. This leaves the Cardinals with somewhere between $26m-$29m to spend. Jason Hill of Viva El Birdos posted a helpful visual of this recently on Twitter/X.

So, what path do the Cardinals take this offseason? I believe there are three distinct paths that they could follow from here on out, and each would put them in a very different position heading into the 2024 season. One path is preferred, one path is understandable, and the other is, at best, passable. With so much offseason left, the Cardinals have plenty of time to make impactful moves, the question remains, which moves will they look to make?

Here are the three different paths the Cardinals' front office is likely weighing right now and what each path means for the rest of their offseason and chances in 2024.