#8 - Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox)
Let's start this list off with a bit of a surprise candidate: the White Sox's Michael Kopech.
On the surface, Kopech is an odd choice, but depending on how the Cardinals address their top two rotation spots, he could fill in rather nicely as their third addition. Kopech took a major step back in 2023, posting a 5.43 ERA in 27 starts and 3 relief appearances. His walk rate was way too high (6.3 BB/9) and he just couldn't seem to get outs when he needed to.
Here is where the promise comes in though. Kopech has elite stuff. In 2021, he was mostly used as a reliever, throwing 69.1 innings with a 3.50 ERA and 13.4 SO/9. In 2022, he made 25 starts, posting a 3.54 ERA butt seeing his SO/9 dip to 7.9. Maybe Kopech was trying too hard to get his strikeout stuff back in 2023, but it's clear the talent is there.
Kopech is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason, and with the White Sox in sell mode and looking to cut costs, they may be ready to move on from him.
Mozeliak has talked about the idea of adding a third arm that can either start or come out of the bullpen depending on the first two arms they acquire. Kopech would fit this bill, and would not require $10m-$13m a year to do so. He has the ceiling to be a very impactful starter or a high-leverage reliever, so he seems like a guy worth taking a gamble on.
I'd imagine decent prospects or someone like Dylan Carlson could get a deal done here. The White Sox have said they are open to trading anyone, so we could see Kopech on the move this offseason.