It's no secret that the St. Louis Cardinals will be looking to upgrade their rotation this offseason. While free agency should, and probably will be, where they make the majority of those upgrades, they'll likely look to swing a trade as well to bolster that group in 2024.
So many names have been linked to the Cardinals this winter, while others have been speculated. Some of the names we do know will be checking in on in the trade market include, but are not limited to, the Mariners' starters, Dylan Cease, Tyler Glasnow, and the Marlins' pitching as well. Other names will likely rise to the surface as well here in the next month. I discussed these names with Sandy McMillan on the Noot News Podcast recently if you want an in-depth conversation on these trade targets and the free agent options as well.
I wanted to go ahead and rank the guys the Cardinals should be the most interested in trading for, and this ranking comes down to a variety of factors. One of the things I took most into consideration was the cost to acquire each pitcher in a trade. The Cardinals should do everything in their power to hold onto guys like Lars Nootbaar, Nolan Gorman, and Brendan Donovan this offseason, so routes where they can upgrade their staff without parting with those guys are preferred. It doesn't mean they shouldn't check in on guys who may cost that, but honestly, I have a hard time selling myself on the idea of acquiring any of the starters that are reportedly available if it takes one or more of those guys.
How the Cardinals address their rotation in free agency plays a huge role as well. If they fail to acquire two front-line starters in the free-agent market, then they will have to do so through a trade. If they do acquire two top-end pitchers through free agency, then their sites could be set on a number three or back-end-of-the-rotation type of starter in a trade instead.
Until we know what moves they will make in free agency, this list is a little difficult, but overall, this is how I think the Cardinals should prioritize the trade market this offseason.
10. Logan Gilbert
In a vacuum, Logan Gilbert is one of the best starters the Cardinals could acquire this offseason should the Mariners entertain trade offers. It's questionable that they even would, but if they did, conversations to acquire Gilbert would likely take a package centered around Lars Nootbaar or something including both Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan.
Part of the cost of Gilbert is the fact that he has so much club control left along with having the ceiling of developing into a true number two starter. Seattle is not going to give that up for cheap, nor should they.
Would he be an excellent addition to the staff? Of course. But I think there are plenty of guys in free agency or through the trade market that make more sense for St. Louis given the price point. The combination of team control and talent is awesome, but not worth the price when there are guys with a few years less of control left that have equal to or more talent and will cost a lot less on the trade market.
If Seattle's asking price comes down on Gilbert, that changes things. But for now, I'd avoid a deal that goes after Gilbert if I'm the Cardinals.