Miami Marlins: Braxton Garrett, LHP
The Miami Marlins have become quite the pitching factory over the last few years, and 2016 first-round pick Braxton Garrett might be another success story. Garrett pitched to a 3.66 ERA in 2023 and displayed excellent control, walking only 29 batters in 159.2 innings and forcing a solid number of chases, ranking in the 76th percentile.
Garrett has a sharply breaking slider with 4.1 inches of drop above average, and his sinker nets ground balls at a strong rate. He was the Marlins' second-best pitcher according to WAR, behind only Jesus Luzardo. Garrett did allow fairly loud contact, with an average exit velocity of 90.2 mph, but he only surrendered 1.1 home runs per nine innings.
The Cardinals would love to get their hands on a young pitcher like Garrett who has wipeout stuff, and the Marlins could use help on the hitting side, as they finished near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories. But with their ace, Sandy Alcantara, set to miss 2024 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, it remains to be seen whether the Marlins will make Garrett available in trade talks.
Milwaukee Brewers: Corbin Burnes, RHP
Although a trade between NL Central foes is unlikely, the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers match up as potential partners in terms of team needs. Corbin Burnes is entering his final year of team control, and the small-market Milwaukee Brewers could look to deal him before he shoots out of their price range.
Burnes is coming off of his third consecutive All-Star campaign, and while he was not as dominant as in recent years, he still led the National League with a 1.069 WHIP. But after he lost his previous arbitration hearing, the relationship between Burnes and the Brewers could have been irreparably harmed. Despite the tension, the Brewers could feel that they need to hold on to Burnes given that Brandon Woodruff, another star pitcher for Milwaukee, is expected to miss much or all of 2024.
The Brewers are in need of infield help, so the Cardinals could deal from their surplus to get a deal done. With Brewers shortstop Willy Adames likely to get paid in arbitration and be on the move, Masyn Winn could make sense as their long-term shortstop. Landing Burnes, even for just one year, would take a lot of talent away from the Cardinals, but they might have the depth to overcome it.