7. Dylan Cease
There's a lot to like about Dylan Cease. At age 27, he still has a lot of years ahead of him, and his stuff is among the best in the league. For his career, he is striking out 10.8 batters per nine innings, and was masterful in 2022, posting a 2.20 ERA in 184 innings of work.
The White Sox sure seem like a team in need of a major rebuild, and although they shopped Cease at the deadline, it seemed like they were not going to move him without a massive haul. Maybe their asking price comes down this offseason, but if not, they may not be able to move him unless a team is desperate for him.
Maybe that team is the Cardinals, but with a lot of other options at their disposal, I don't see them throwing a ton of assets into a deal for Cease. He's coming off a major down year, where his ERA ballooned to 4.58, but his FIP was 3.72 and he still ate innings while striking out batters. I think he will bounce back next year, but what's the price it'll take to get him?
Again, I'd imagine at least one of Donovan, Nootbaar, or Gorman. It sounds like lately, teams seem to be most interested in Gorman, which makes sense with his incredible power. If it only takes one of those guys, specifically Donovan or Gorman, and then some other prospects or less valuable big leaguers, I could see St. Louis being interested.
Cease still has multiple years of club control remaining, so he won't cost nearly as much in salary as the guys on the open market will, and at his best, he's arguably the best pitcher of the bunch as well.
I don't think Cease to the Cardinals is a pipedream at all. I do believe Chicago and St. Louis will have real conversations, and I could see a deal getting done. But if I had to bet Cease vs. multiple names that are higher on this list, I'd go with the field here. But don't get me wrong, as long as the package isn't crazy, I'd be a big fan of bringing Cease to the Cardinals.