Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout, OF
The Cardinals aren't devoid of outfield talent, but amid the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes are whispers that the Los Angeles Angels could try to deal Mike Trout. If Ohtani signs elsewhere, the Angels might opt for a full rebuild. One of the faces of baseball, Trout would command quite a haul in return. A recent article covered three potential packages the Cardinals could offer for Trout.
Trout's resume speaks for itself; just go to Baseball Reference, and you'll see bold italics plastered all over his stat sheet. But injuries have hampered Trout over the past few years, and a rare back condition makes his future even murkier. The Angels owe Trout $260 million over the next seven years, so if a trade were to occur, they would likely have to take on much of that salary.
Trout is still among the best hitters in the game when healthy, but whether the usually risk-averse Cardinals would want to give up significant capital to acquire him is a big question. That said, if the Cardinals are truly in "win now" mode, they could take a hard look at him and send some younger pieces to the Angels.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Alex Vesia, LHP
The Los Angeles Dodgers' biggest need, much like the Cardinals'. is the rotation, and the Dodgers will likely be one of the teams with deep pockets looking to spend in free agency. Their bullpen, however, is much sturdier, and left-hander Alex Vesia could be on the outside looking in after a wobbly 2023 campaign.
Vesia began 2023 abysmally, with a 7.84 ERA and an opposing .434 batting average in 10.1 innings, but after a demotion, he emerged as a much better pitcher, with a 3.43 ERA from May 30 onward. He is reliant on his fastball, throwing it 68.3% of the time last season. Vesia may have run into some bad luck with his heater, as batters hit .271 off of it, but its expected batting average was .229. He still showed a nearly elite strikeout rate after the minor league reset, fanning 49 batters in 39.1 innings.
The Cardinals have one strong left-handed reliever in JoJo Romero, and John King was effective as well, but Vesia is two years younger than King and likely offers more upside. If Vesia's resurgence upon being promoted back to the major leagues was real, he could be a crucial piece in the Cardinals bullpen.