On Sunday, I shared my perfect offseason blueprint for the St. Louis Cardinals. I feel really good about the group of starting pitchers and relievers I put together for the 2024 Cardinals, but I was very curious as to how Cardinals fans would construct their "perfect offseason".
So I took to Twitter/X to find out.
Over the weekend, I asked Cardinals fans to vote on a number of polls to put together the perfect offseason for St. Louis. I wanted the plan to be aggressive, but also not a fantasy style offseason as well. So in order to do that while still letting Cardinals fans dictate the moves, I set up some parameters for us to work under.
Here were the ground rules we were working under:
1. I proposed different scenarios on Twitter/X, and the winning vote was the move that was made. Each of these moves directly impacted the next move the Cardinals could make, so this isn’t a fantasy land offseason. Spending big money somewhere lessens the money they can spend elsewhere.
2. We’ll be operating with a more optimistic budget, with the maximum amount of payroll they can add for 2024 being $65 million. I landed on this number based on some great reporting by Derrick Goold and under the assumption they are going to come close to a $200m payroll. I also baked in some non-tenders/trades into that $65 million number as well, so the following players I have already decided will not be on the Cardinals roster for 2024
- Tyler O’Neill
- Andrew Knizner
- Dakota Hudson
- Jake Woodford
- John King
(The money freed up by non-tendering each of these names came from MLB Trade Rumors' arbitration projections).
This allowed us to get to that $65m budget number, but it could fluctuate if a player like Tommy Edman is moved via trade. But the beginning assumption was that he'd be on the Opening Day roster.
3. The to-do list is the following…
- Top of the rotation starter
- number 2 starter
- third starter (preferably better than Mikolas/Matz)
- high-leverage reliever
- another reliever, preferably high leverage.
4. At the end, we’ll see how Twitter/X decided to build the 2024 Cardinals.
With all of that in mind, we’ll start by deciding whether or not the Cardinals sign or trade for their number one starter.
Decision #1 - Sign or trade for the number one starter?
The first decision Cardinals' Twitter had to make was not an actual aquisitoin, but it would heavily influence the string of events that was to follow - should the Cardinals sign or trade for their new number one starter?
A couple of caveats here. Everyone feels differently about the free agents and trade targets available this offseason. We all have our own definitions of an ace or front-line starter, and who qualifies for each of them. So for the sake of this conversation, a number one starter is someone who the Cardinals can lean on to lead their rotation throughout a season and in Game 1 of a playoff series.
Signing this starter allows the Cardinals to hold onto their best young talent, but would also require a significant financial investment. Trading for that starter would likely cost less in salary but would require the Cardinals to lose significant assets in the process. So, I left the decision up to Cardinals Twitter.
Fans' decision: Sign the number one starter
So with that decision out of the way, we'll now jump into the first move of the Cardinals' Twitter offseason.