Path #3 - Use Brendan Donovan to acquire a starting pitcher on the trade market
Most of us strongly anticipate the Cardinals acquiring a starting pitcher via trade this offseason. In Katie Woo's latest piece over at The Athletic (subscription required), she seemed to believe that Donovan was not going to be a piece they looked to move this offseason, but rather would be more open to trading Edman or Gorman, and would be most interested in moving Carlson, Burleson, O'Neill, Yepez, or Baker to acquire said pitching.
Frankly, unless the free agent market goes wild and only signing one guy is the wisest route for St. Louis, I just do not like the idea of them parting with any of Nootbaar, Donovan, or Gorman to bring in the pitching help they need. I would much rather have them dip into their farm system in a painful way, or use the value of a guy like Edman, Burleson, Carlson, or O'Neill to pull off a deal for a starter.
The Mariners will likely want at least one of Nootbaar, Gorman, or Donovan, plus more, to acquire someone like Logan Gilbert. The White Sox will want a strong package for Dylan Cease, but I could see a more prospect-heavy package getting that deal done. The Marlins are going to want offense to add to their lineup, but again, I do not see it being worth giving up those core bats.
Just look at the postseason right now, left-handed hitting tends to help drive offenses toward success in October. Yes, you need a strong mix of talent, and the Cardinals have plenty of right-handed hitting with Goldschmidt, Arenado, Contreras, and Walker, but losing one or two of those left-handed bats could really set this lineup back significantly.
If I'm the front office, I'm looking for alternative ways to acquire that pitching. Whether it's prospects to the White Sox for Cease, or MLB-talent like Edman and Burleson to the Rays for Tyler Glasnow, or something else we cannot predict yet, I am exhausted every other scenario possible before giving up someone like Gorman, Nootbaar, or Donovan. It appears like the Cardinals feel the same way, and I am encouraged by that.
Donovan specifically is someone who I think won't carry quite as much value on the trade market as he would actually be providing for another team. Donovan is just scratching the surface of what he can be as a winning player, and the Cardinals would be making a huge mistake letting him go. The same could be said for Gorman and Nootbaar as well.