Here is the blueprint for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the MLB trade deadline

Capitalizing on the value of impending free agents and aggressively pursuing upgrades for 2024 would lead to the Cardinals winning the trade deadline.
Houston Astros v St. Louis Cardinals
Houston Astros v St. Louis Cardinals / Scott Kane/GettyImages
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1. Acquire a young, controllable starting pitcher using one of their young bats

We'll get to the significant "seller" moves here in a moment, but the thing that the Cardinals need to do everything in their power to pursue is a trade for controllable starting pitching. It does not *have* to happen before the offseason, but it needs to be their number one priority as a front office until it's accomplished.

The name that keeps getting thrown out there as the "big fish" target for the Cardinals is Seattle's Logan Gilbert. He would be an excellent addition to the Cardinals' rotation, but it will cost them a lot.

FanGraphs has been putting together their annual "trade value" chart, where they rank the most valuable assets in today's game. Not just who is actually available, but they rank every player and prospect based on who would be the hardest to acquire.

Gilbert ranked 33rd in all of baseball on this list. His teammate, George Kirby, ranked 26th.

With pitchers like Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, Bryan Woo, Bryce Miller, and Emerson Hancock in their organization, it's no wonder people think they may want to capitalize on the value of their controllable starter.

There is one name I think the Cardinals have to make available if they want to get this deal done, and that is Lars Nootbaar.

Nootbaar ranks 47th in FanGraphs' list, which means he would get St. Louis pretty close to the package it will take to get Gilbert. It will take a very strong package overall, but the Cardinals need to be willing to be aggressive to get the pitcher they desperately need.

If it's not Gilbert, then turn your attention to Woo, Miller, or someone like Dylan Cease. This needs to be the big move they make at this deadline.