Decision #5 - Trade for a number three starter
Two starters down, one more to go. There are a wide variety of trade options here. One excellent starter who is more like a number two, two younger guys with high-upside but are not quite impact guys yet, and a safer number three option.
Option #1 - Acquire Tarik Skubal from the Detroit Tigers for Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore ($2.6 million AAV). Many people are unaware of Skubal, but he's one of the brightest young starters in today's game. The 26-year-old lefty began the season on the IL but ended up making 15 starts to the tune of a 2.80 ERA with 102 SO in just 80.1 innings of work. He's arbitration-eligible for the first time this season and won't be a free agent until 2027. so he's going to require a massive piece like Gorman to get the Tigers talking.
Option #2 - Acquire Edward Cabrera from the Miami Marlins for Alec Burleson and Cesar Prieto ($700k). Cabrera really broke out in 2022 for the Marlins, posting a 3.01 ERA in 14 starts with a 137 ERA+ and 9.4 SO/9. Things fell off in 2023, as his BB/9 went up to 6.0, and saw his ERA climb to 4.24 as well. He has electric stuff and could develop into a top-end guy, but he also could just be an erratic back-of-the-rotation starter as well. He doesn't hit arbitration until 2025 or free agency until 2029, so there's a cost-control benefit here as well.
Option #3 - Acquire Bryan Woo and Prelander Berroa from the Seattle Mariners for Brendan Donovan ($1.4 million AAV). The ideal offseason has the Cardinals holding onto their best young position players, but with how little budget they have remaining, they could look to kill two birds with one stone and part with Donovan for two high-upside arms, one for the rotation and one for the bullpen. Woo has the stuff to be a future number two in this league, but right now profiles more like a number four starter. Berrora has the stuff to be a high-leverage guy in the near future but has very little MLB experience.
Option #4 - Acquire Griffin Canning from the Los Angeles Angels for Dylan Carlson and Juan Yepez ($2.5 million AAV). Canning is not a flashy starter by any means but could fill the Cardinals' void ass a number three starter and do so under team control through 2026. He upped his strikeout stuff in the second half of the season and seems ready to take another step forward, and wouldn't require a ton in return to acquire.
With all of these possibilities on the table, Cardinals fans took to the vote.
Cabrera is an intriguing option here, offering that upside and low salary while not having to part with a major piece either. The risk here is that he could be nothing more than a flashy number four or five starter, but even that's not bad value here.
Fans' decision: Trade Alec Burleson and Cesar Prieto for Edward Cabrera ($8.5 million remaining in the budget).
Now it's time to turn the attention to the bullpen for the final two moves.