The St. Louis Cardinals have been the most active team in baseball this offseason, and new reports indicate they are not done with aggressively upgrading their rotation.
Both Katie Woo and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required for both) are reporting that the Cardinals have shown interest in White Sox's starter Dylan Cease. Earlier this offseason, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold (subscription required) reported the Cardinals' interest in Cease, but the club decided to wait to pursue trade targets until they had ironed out their free agent signings.
Goold has also reported that the Cardinals remain "open-minded" to the idea of adding more starting pitching, with the trade market being the likeliest way they do so. As the Winter Meetings begin next week, there is real momentum for the Cardinals to put the cherry on top of their rotation for 2024 by swinging a deal with the White Sox.
Earlier today, I suggested that the Cardinals may have the strongest offer out of the clubs who are interested in Cease, as they have a mix of outfield depth, top prospects, and young, MLB-proven bats whom Chicago may covet.
I would imagine that early negotiations, from the Cardinals' perspective, would center around an outfielder like Dylan Carlson or Alec Burleson, a pitching prospect like Tink Hence, Gordon Graceffo, or Cooper Hjerpe, and one of their top position player prospects, such as Thomas Saggese or Chase Davis. The package would likely need to expand from there, but it should get a conversation going.
The White Sox will rightfully ask for names like Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan, and if bidding were to get high for Cease, the Cardinals may have to include one of those guys to get a deal done. If they do include one of their left-handed hitting infielders, I think the most the White Sox could expect to be included is one top pitching prospect, or they could get more players by receiving multiple lower-tier prospects or some of the Cardinals' outfield depth. Maybe even a name like Tommy Edman could be discussed.
For as much as I believe the Cardinals need another front-line starter, they don't need to act desperate to get one. If the White Sox's asking price for Cease extends beyond what I have discussed, then the Cardinals can walk away from the table and look at other options instead. A trade for Ray's right-hander Tyler Glasnow makes a ton of sense. Seattle or Miami may be interested in moving a top arm for bats as well.
The offseason is shaping up to remain exciting for the Cardinals. They've already positioned themselves to be back in the playoff race in 2024, but a move like Cease could raise their ceiling to become true contenders in the National League again.