Ranking the likeliest free agent starting pitching fits for the St. Louis Cardinals

There are a lot of starting pitchers being linked to the Cardinals in free agency, but which ones are the likeliest fits?
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8. Lucas Giolito

Flaherty's old high-school teammate, Lucas Giolito is just as inconsistent of a pitcher as Flaherty is, and again, I don't really see the Cardinals wanting to sign up for that.

Giolito has posted two full big league seasons with sub-4.00 ERAs, as well as the shortened COVID season where it was 3.48, two seasons (including this one) where his ERA was above 4.00, and one full season where he had a 6.13 ERA (albeit, his first full season as a starter).

From 2019-2021, he finished 6th, 7th, and 11th in American League Cy Young voting. Since then, it's been a lot less promising for Giolito.

The first half of 2023 was pretty good for him, as he posted a 3.79 ERA in 121 innings for the dysfunctional White Sox. Since being dealt to the Angels, he has a 6.67 ERA in 5 starts.

Giolito will likely get paid big money due to the upside he has as a starter, but can the Cardinals really afford to ride the waves that he has experienced in his career? Every starter on the market has question markets around them, but I feel as though Giolito's upside doesn't make me want to take on his risk like other starters on this market would.

I do think Giolito is the name on this list where I start to see a scenario where St. Louis signs him. One big reason for this is the lack of a qualifying offer attached to him. Four of the next seven names on this list will have a qualifying offer attached to them this winter, causing the Cardinals to lose a draft pick if they sign them. Getting Giolito and keeping their draft pick could be an incentive for them.