4. Proven number five starter
The Cardinals' front office has consistently stated since the trade deadline that they intend to add three starting pitchers through free agency or the trade market this offseason. While I do not think that is a bad idea at all, I do rank that third arm, a number five starter, as their lowest need as I'm not sure it would turn into the offseason we all want them to have if they go that path.
Adding two impact arms in one offseason already feels like a bit of a stretch for this club. If one of those arms ends up being an MLB-proven, cost-controlled arm, then I could realistically see them grabbing three starters. But if the top two arms they acquire this offseason require larger contracts, I'm not sure I see this being realistic.
Also, having one open rotation spot, as long as they acquire legit arms for the other two spots, makes a lot of sense to me. The Cardinals have arms like Gordon Graceffo, Matthew Liberatore, Michael McGreevy, Tekoah Roby, Adam Kloffenstein, Sem Robberse, and Drew Rom who are all near-MLB-ready arms already. It would make sense to allow these arms to battle it out for that fifth spot next year, and then they will still have six other options they can go to if someone struggles or an injury happens. Not to mention the potential arrival of Tink Hence or even Cooper Hjerpe.
Still, I wouldn't blame them for adding an arm for the back end of the rotation this offseason if they'd like that certainty. Someone on a one-year deal that they can rely on for innings as those young guys develop would not be a bad idea at all.