Item #3: Third starter who can slot ahead of Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz
Who they should target: Shane Bieber, Edward Cabrera, Bryan Woo, Shota Imanaga, Braxton Garrett, Lucas Giolito, Seth Lugo, Kyle Hendricks, Wade Miley, Frankie Montas, Tyler Mahle
This list is long and will be dictated in large part by the names they acquire in the first two items on this list.
The Cardinals could look to bring in a former Cy Young winner who's lost a lot of stock in the last year in Bieber. He's not the same guy anymore, but as your number three starter, I think you like what he has to offer and can also bet on him as a guy who bounces back in a contract year. Like Glasnow, the price to acquire should be relatively low, making him even more attractive of a trade candidate.
On the free agent market, Shota Imanaga is a left-handed starter from Japan coming over this offseason with strikeout stuff. He'd be a really solid third option for the rotation should St. Louis sign him. Kyle Hendricks, Wade Miley, and Seth Lugo all had solid years in 2023 but would present pretty low ceilings but could fill that third rotation spot if needed.
On the trade market, arms with control like Woo, Cabrera, and Garrett all offer varying levels of upside but should be able to fill that number three role with almost no problem. Cabrera would likely take the least trade capital to acquire of the three, and the Cardinals should balk at any requests for their best young bats when in conversations surrounding these guys.
Montas and Mahle are both injury bounce-back candidates, while Giolito's awful end to 2023 may force him to take a flyer deal to prove his value again.
This list has the widest range of talent, but it really does come down to what the Cardinals are able to do at the top of their rotation, and how the market unfolds. I feel good about them getting three really good guys to lead their rotation, but it's still too early to tell how the market is going to play itself out.