The St. Louis Cardinals are connected to every top starting pitcher on the market. Not just because they need those pitchers, but connected because they are legitimately interested in acquiring any of the top starters available this winter.
Even with their sights set higher than normal and upwards of $50 million in budget to spend (with room for that number to grow based on trades, non-tenders, and frankly, just a willingness to spend more), it's likely that the Cardinals will have to be creative with how they go about constructing this rotation.
Frankly, both national and local reporting continue to put the Cardinals in the Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes, especially with their deep connections within Japan now. Blake Snell and Aaron Nola remain high on their wish list as well. Trades for the likes of Tyler Glasnow or Dylan Cease are certainly on the table as well.
But the one name that continues to be most strongly connected to the Cardinals is Sonny Gray, who will be finishing in the top 3 in American League Cy Young voting this past season and the Cardinals have been planning to make a run at for a number of months now. This does not rule them out of a move for any of the other top names on the market.
Katie Woo of The Athletic, who does an excellent job covering the Cardinals, ranked the Cardinals' likelihood of signing Gray this offseason at "70 percent" (subscription required), which is a very strong number for a player who could sign with any team on the open market this offseason. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (subscription required) continues to report they are very interested in Gray.
Outside of reporting the Cardinals' interest, a few other recent stories surrounding Gray's other interested suitors indicate he could be on the move to St. Louis as well. The Minnesota Twins just announced they plan on cutting payroll for 2024, which likely rules them out of resigning Gray. The 34-year-old has talked about wanting to play for a team that "wants him", and it does not seem like the Twins will be fitting that profile.
Another team that has been heavily linked to Gray is the Atlanta Braves. One of Gray's other desires this offseason is to live closer to home (Nashville, Tennessee), with the three closest MLB cities to Nashville being Atlanta, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. Well, the Braves just picked up Charlie Morton's $20 million club option for 2024 after strongly considering declining it. The Braves were expected to be players for Gray and Nola this offseason if they had declined it, but now that likely rules them out as well.
I haven't seen much buzz regarding the Cincinnati Reds and their potential pursuit of Gray, but it would make a ton of sense for them to jump into his market. I'm sure other clubs in need of pitching around baseball are going to be talking to Gray, but based on what he's looking for this offseason, all roads seem to lead to St. Louis.
I'm a big Sonny Gray fan, but I get why people want to see the Cardinals swing a bit higher. Ideally, the Cardinals do both, bringing in Gray as their number two option and bringing in another high-end starter to compliment him, like Nola, Snell, Yamamoto, Glasnow, or Cease. Gray is expected to get a lower annual value on his contract compared to the rest of the top free-agent starters and on a shorter deal, which makes him an appealing option for St. Louis as they try to bring in three different starters between now and Spring Training.
Keep an eye on a Gray move to St. Louis happening in the near future, as the Cardinals reportedly want to make one of the first moves in the pitching market. Gray is someone who is also expected to sign early this offseason, making this another sign that a move here is likely.