3. Dylan Cease
Here's the first real legit front-line starter on the list, and one that will require a significant package to bring to St. Louis. Dylan Cease's trade value is lower than a Logan Gilbert, so it shouldn't be as crazy high as you may think, but it still requires giving up some players that will hurt.
Any package for Cease likely begins with one of Gorman or Donovan. Gorman is still a no-deal for me in this scenario, but I think I'd have to be open to moving Donovan in a deal for Cease, especially if the Cardinals are only able to get one legit front-line guy in free agency. If they sign two, I'm not desperate for Cease. But if they only get one, then things will have to get uncomfortable.
On top of Donovon or Gorman, you're still looking at two other valuable pieces like Graceffo, Saggese, Herrera, Carlson, or Burleson to get the job done. Maybe the Cardinals could do a deal centered around a Tink Hence instead, but I'm not sure the White Sox would go for that, and I feel like the Cardinals will not want to part with their top pitching prospects. I love Hence as a prospect, but I'd rather part with him for pitching than give up Donovan or Gorman, especially with Tekoah Roby and other interesting arms in the system, and the fact you'd have Cease the next two years.
Cease still has two years of team control remaining, and while I am a bit worried about his down 2023 season, I do think he's still closer talent-wise to his second-place Cy Young finish from 2022 than what occurred this year.
Cease is a strikeout machine, he doesn't really give up home runs, and he's proven he can eat innings as well. There is a lot to like about Cease long-term, and the Cardinals could use the extra team control to work on an extension before he ever hits free agency.