Target #3 - Chris Sale
I recently made the argument for why the Cardinals could consider a Chris Sale trade this off-season, and after thinking about this more since then, I believe he makes a ton of sense for the Cardinals if they deal for a starter this off-season.
Unlike someone like Pablo Lopez, Sale is not going to cost a ton of prospect capital to acquire. Yes, he has a large contract, but it's likely the Red Sox would eat a good chunk of that in any trade of Sale.
Sale's injury history continues to be brought up as a reason for the club not to pursue him, and sure it is concerning, but most of those injuries were very fluky. You can argue that he is injury prone now, but before this string of unlucky injuries, Sale pitched over 147 innings each season from 2012-2019, eclipsing 190 innings in five different seasons.
In his very limited sample size after returning from injuries in 2022, Sale's fastball velocity and spin were both around the 60th percentile in baseball. Sale looked like himself, and it did not appear that he had lost any of his ability over the last two years. If he remains healthy, there's not a lot of reason to believe he would not be very productive for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals would be buying low on a starter who could be one of the best in baseball for the next few years. If the Sale experiment failed, he likely would still be good enough to be a mid-rotation, and St. Louis would still have the assets necessary to make a big move for an ace.