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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Remain aggressive

I understand that the Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson signings were far from splashy. The Tyler O'Neill trade was expected and did not move the needle much. Sonny Gray was an excellent signing, but again, it's far from a major bite at the apple. Still, to this point, they've been one of the most aggressive teams in baseball.

If the Cardinals want to do more than just get themselves out of the mess they found themselves in during 2023, they'll need to continue to press on the gas this offseason to go from a fringe playoff team to a true contender.

The most obvious way they can truly make a statement this offseason is by adding another front-line starter. Pairing Sonny Gray up with another pitcher of his caliber or better would give the Cardinals the formidable 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation that the best teams in baseball have.

The trade market seems to be the clearest way for St. Louis to do that. Dylan Cease is expected to be dealt by the White Sox, and with them facing a long rebuild, creating a package of prospects could get their attention and bring the strikeout machine to the Cardinals.

Speaking of a strikeout machine, Tyler Glasnow has some of the best stuff in baseball and could be had from the Rays for far less than what Cease will require on the trade market due to his $25 million salary and injury history. Yes, there are a lot of risks built-in with Glasnow, but the price would be much easier to shallow and he raises the ceiling of the Cardinals significantly.

Frankly, a run at Yoshinobu Yamamoto would still be the wisest path of all. Yes, his rumored contract number continues to balloon, but he's a 25-year-old ace sitting on the free-agent market, something that rarely ever happens. Yamamoto would give the Cardinals a true number one starter for years and years to come, and only require money to acquire him.

There are so many ways they could continue to look to improve this ballclub and get into true contender status, something I talked about with site contributors Sandy McMillian and Andrew Wang, as well as Locked On Cardinals' J.D. Hefron on the latest episode of the "Noot News Podcast" (29:00 min mark).

Adding another front-end starter and then shoring up the bullpen the best they can with the resources they have left would vault the Cardinals from a mid-80s win team to a club that should win 90+ games and can match up with pretty much anyone in October. It's far from a pipe dream that the Cardinals can pull this off, but will the front office and ownership continue to press the gas with the uncertainty of their TV rights deal?