#2 - Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox)
Dylan Cease is another front-line starter linked to the Cardinals this offseason. The Chicago White Sox are prepared to trade anyone on their roster as they look to begin their rebuild, and Cease is the best asset on their Major League roster outside of Luis Robert.
Cease will take a haul to acquire, but surely not as much as Gilbert. The White Sox will likely want a mix of young MLB talent as well as strong prospects, something the Cardinals could muster up rather easily.
I put together a list of trade proposals the Cardinals could offer the White Sox a few days ago, as there's a variety of routes they could choose to go here depending on Chicago's asking price.
Tommy Edman seems to be linked to the White Sox, as they have a need for a shortstop or second baseman, and Edman can fill either role through the 2025 season. If Edman were the significant MLB piece heading Chicago's way, then they'll likely need to send some top prospects as well.
I'd imagine one of Tink Hence or Tekoah Roby would be needed in this deal, with a bat like Thomas Saggese potentially being that third piece of the puzzle. If the White Sox want someone like Brendan Donovan or Nolan Gorman as the centerpiece, then the prospect capital needed should become less significant.
Cease has a Cy Young candidate in 2022 but was less effective in 2023. His stuff did not experience a drop-off, so he's still the same guy who can take control of a game on the mound, but he needs to figure out what went wrong for him compared to his breakout campaign.
Cease is under team control through the 2025 season and will make less than $10 million in 2024. So not only is his talent that of a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he would cost more like what a number four or five starter would get in free agency, helping the Cardinals maintain salary flexibility to add other significant starters to the mix.
Any deal for Cease is going to hurt, but that's what it takes to acquire talent that is cost-controlled like him. The Cardinals should be one of the main teams interested in Cease, especially if they strikeout on some of the top free agents available.