I was checking out my Twitter/X feed the other day and came across some interesting thoughts on the St. Louis Cardinals offseason, something that has stuck with me since then.
Could the Cardinals make another run at Juan Soto this offseason?
Let me be as straightforward as possible, this is all speculation, and the idea itself is one that I do not think Jason Hill of Viva El Birdos believes would happen either, but he planted the thought in my mind originally, and then I began hearing it from a pretty big voice in the MLB community.
After seeing this tweet from Jason, I thought it was fun, and kind of let it remain that, until I heard Xavier Scruggs bring up the possibility on MLB Radio, and he even tweeted about it the day before Hill's original tweet.
Alright, sure, the Cardinals could go out and sign Shohei Ohtani too, but we all know they are not doing that (sorry Andrew Wang, my fellow co-host on the Noot News Podcast and Shohei Ohtani superfan). There's no way they could actually trade for Soto given what we know about the Cardinals' budget and offseason plans...right?
Well, credit to Hill again for taking this point even further, and really beginning to map out the why and how behind a Soto deal for the Cardinals.
Dylan Carlson, Steven Matz, and someone like Tekoah Roby or Chase Davis, would you do that if you were the Cardinals? The likelihood of Soto resigning in St. Louis is probably low, but then again, the Cardinals do like to have Hall-of-Fame-level talents on their roster. Soto will be entering his age-26 season when he hits free agency, the exact kind of player the Cardinals would spend big on if they ever are going to do so.
Even if the Cardinals wouldn't resign Soto, imagine this starting lineup for the 2024 season:
CF Lars Nootbaar
1B Paul Goldschmidt
LF Juan Soto
3B Nolan Arenado
C Willson Contreras
DH Nolan Gorman
RF Jordan Walker
2B Brendan Donovan
SS Masyn Winn
I've been extremely bullish on the upside that the Cardinals' lineup has. I truly believe it can be one of the best in baseball next year. If you add Juan Soto to that lineup (without even having to subtract other key bats), this lineup could truly rival the Atlanta Braves.
The rotation has improved over last year, and whatever questions you have about its overall upside, I think the presence of Soto makes those questions far less pressing. Honestly, the Cardinals could decide to be aggressive in adding a cheaper arm like Dylan Cease to the top of this rotation with one of their young bats, still have an elite lineup, and now have a very good rotation to pair with it.
Again, I wouldn't bank on Soto resigning with the Cardinals, but honestly, if you gave him a year in St. Louis around guys like Arenado, Goldschmidt, Contreras, Nootbaar, Gray, Donovan, Edman, Winn, Walker, and all of these awesome personalities and talents, it may be hard for him to leave. He'll still want a massive contract, but he may be willing to stay in a city like St. Louis after seeing how toxic things can get in a market like San Diego, or how horrible rebuilds can be like in Washington.
Next year, the Cardinals have $22 million coming off the books between Gibson and Lynn, and an additional $26 million from Goldschmidt's expiring deal. They'd have money to work with to bring Soto back to St. Louis and did not have to give up the farm to grab him.
The more I have thought about this, the more interested I am becoming in this scenario. Do I think it will happen? No, I don't. It feels like the Yankees are going to be desperate enough to outbid the Cardinals if they got aggressive for Soto, but I really do think the Cardinals should call A.J. Preller and see what they could do. They could even dangle a name like Tommy Edman to up the ante, knowing his role with the team would be shrinking anyway and his contract is up after 2025 (and he's due another significant raise after 2024 as well.