1. Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Oddly enough, I think the chances of the Cardinals signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto from Japan just went up.
Think about it. The Cardinals have swung really low with their first two rotation upgrades. If they truly have the ability to spend this offseason, it would make a ton of sense to invest the rest of their assets into a starter with the pedigree and potential of Yamamoto.
Yamamoto is open to coming to St. Louis, and there are a ton of things that the Cardinals have done over the last calendar year to increase their chances of signing Yamamoto this offseason. While the Cardinals tend to stay away from big-time free-agent moves, there are a lot of reasons to believe Yamamoto appeals to them in a way that most free agents do not.
Being just 25 years old, the Cardinals can sign Yamamoto knowing they have 5-10 years of prime pitching ahead of them. Yes, there's always a risk of injury, but he truly has the talent to be a top-5 pitcher in baseball and can do so as soon as 2024 and be that guy for them for a decade.
It's hard to put a price on what that can do for the future of this club.
The Cardinals have a pitching development problem, and while they are working toward fixing that long-term, they are still years away from seeing if guys like Tink Hence, Tekoah Roby, or Cooper Hjerpe can be solutions to their yearly pitching problems. Yamamoto can be the answer both now and for the rest of the decade.
Hopefully, by 2025, the Cardinals do not have to keep signing guys like Mikolas, Matz, Gibson, and Lynn to fill out their rotation each year. Instead, they can have some cost-controlled arms in their rotatoin, allowing them to allocate resources elsewhere on the team (and afford to pay big-time players like a Yamamoto).
I fully expect the Cardinals to be aggressive with going after Yamamoto this offseason. If they put in a competitive offer, it will be up to Yamamoto to decide if he wants to be in St. Louis or on one of the coasts.