Decisions #6 and #7 - Sign or trade for two high leverage relievers
With approximately $8.5 million remaining in the budget, the Cardinals will have to get creative here with their spending and trades, but it is possible to make two quality additions with what they have remaining.
I won't go into full detail about the following options that you can see for the first reliever acquisition, but they offer a variety of options both in free agency and the trade market. Yuki Matsui is a left-hander from Japan who is heavily linked to the Cardinals, while Emilio Pagan would provide a right-handed option who can close out games if needed, but really provides them with another 7th or 8th-inning option.
On the trade side of things, we stated at the beginning that O'Neill had to be traded to make the money work, so he is going to be involved with a trade for a reliever at some point. Prelander Berrora makes another appearance here, as a low-cost option with six years of team control but does not have the late-inning track record yet. Andrew Nardi is a left-handed reliever from Miami who has been really good for the Marlins and would give St. Louis that second left-handed look late in games.
Fans went the Matsui route here, and I don't blame them. He was the youngest player in Japan to reach 200 career saves, and although he is small and does not throw high-90s, he has a crazy high strikeout rate. He can close games as needed for the Cardinals but really strengthens their late-inning arsenal overall.
Fans' decision - Sign Yuki Matsui for three years, $21 million ($1.5 million remaining in the budget).
Lastly, it's time to trade Tyler O'Neill for a reliever. Berroa and Nardi are once again options here, but two established right-handed relievers join them on this list as well.
James Karinchak has been the set-up man for Guardians' Emmanuel Clase for a few years now and has both incredible strikeout stuff and a high walk rate. He's a bit unpredictable on the mount, but would really bolster what the Cardinals have late in games if they went this route.
For most of Shawn Armstrong's career, he's been a solid option out of the bullpen, but nothing special. Well, in 2023, he posted a 1.38 ERA in 52 innings of work for the Rays. There is a fear here that what the Rays unlocked in Armstrong won't replicate itself in St. Louis, but it's a high-risk option that may be worth taking.
For the final agenda item, Cardinals fans voted to trade O'Neill for James Karinchak, using up the rest of the remaining budget and finally rounding out this roster for 2024.
Fans' decision - Trade Tyler O'Neill for James Karinchak
Let's look at the final roster and I'll give my thoughts on how this went down!