Please don't shoot the messenger, my fellow Cardinals fans. But chances are incredibly slim that Shohei Ohtani will be wearing the Birds on the Bat in 2024. After all, he is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery and will be strictly limited to hitting duties.
Yes, you read that right. There is no way the Cardinals sign Ohtani.
Or is there?
For those of you still clinging to that hope, I invite you to follow me on this journey as we look at one possible way Ohtani could end up in St. Louis. Mind you, this is a long shot, but one can dream.
How Ohtani could fit with Cardinals
We all know that the Cardinals need three starting pitchers. For 2024, Ohtani will obviously not be one of them, even if signed.
However, chances are good that the Cardinals will explore both the trade and free-agent markets. How does this pertain to Ohtani you ask?
Well, we know that the Cardinals are going to have to spend big. But in order for Ohtani to fit with the Birds, they'll have to be kind of selective with how they spend on pitching. This means that they'll have to do much of the heavy lifting via trade.
So, what if the Cardinals added two pitchers via trade, say Shane Bieber and Bryce Miller? Just like in free agency, adding pitchers via trade will come at a high cost. This means somebody like Nolan Gorman, Tommy Edman, or Brendan Donovan may be coming off the board.
But if the Cardinals add two starters via trade, there still is room to sign two guys to bolster the roster. One of them still has to be a starter who is able to pitch next year. But trading away Gorman, Edman, or Donovan leaves a hole in the offense.
This is where Ohtani comes in.
Knowing that Ohtani can't pitch in 2024, the Cardinals can add him simply for the purpose of hitting, at least for next year. That way, they can still spend big on two free agents and increase payroll.
By 2025, Ohtani should be able to pitch again, so they could still have a solid rotation in 2024, but it could be even better in 2025 when Ohtani can pitch again.
Due to the injury, Ohtani's market value has likely taken a major hit, meaning he won't get the kind of deal he was originally expected to. That could play into the Cardinals' favor. He could be more affordable, and therefore in the Cardinals' price range.
Keep in mind, that this is still a long shot, but when you really look at it, it could be possible. One can dream.