When Yoshinobu Yamamoto inked his 12-year $325 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers this December, most St. Louis Cardinals fans were in agreement that such a high number would've been impossible for the Cardinals to pay. Of course, signing the richest contract for a starting pitcher in MLB history was a longshot to begin with, but for a player with zero Major League experience, it was a risk the organization could not afford to take.
However, before his market exploded, the Cardinals were viewed as one of the biggest contenders to land Yamamoto. As reported by St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Derrick Goold, most GMs and executives viewed the Cardinals as uniquely positioned to sign Yamamoto to a long-term contract at the GM Meetings to open the offseason. At that point, it looked like he would only demand a contract of around $200-250 million at most, and the Cardinals were certainly willing to meet that price point.
Goold reiterated this point in a conversation with Bernie Mikalsz recently, and he stated that the Cardinals expected to be players in the Yamamoto market, but once the market eventually reached over $300 million, they decided to go elsewhere. This marks a true change in philosophy that the Cardinals are now willing to sign starting pitchers to long-term contracts, something they were extremely hesitant to do in the past.
While the Cardinals weren't able to land any starting pitchers this offseason at a long-term deal, and they probably won't be interested in Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, their involvement in the Yamamoto sweepstakes indicates that they would be willing to splurge on ace-caliber starting pitching in the future.