Contending teams are always looking to find that missing piece who will take them over the top and let them compete for a title, but there's a problem this season: There aren't many top-flight players available because most teams believe they still have a chance to contend.
The putridity of both leagues' Central divisions means that even the teams who would normally be sellers believe they have a chance to sneak into the playoffs and get hot. The St. Louis Cardinals are one of these teams, but their substantial amount of talent outpaces that of every other team with a similar record.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in a great position to acquire substantial young talent because of the current seller's market.
If the Cardinals decide to throw in the towel in 2023 and sell off some of their players, they could net a better return than in other years because of the seller's market that has emerged. Take Jack Flaherty as an example: Many teams would desire a pitcher who has seen the kind of success Flaherty has, however briefly. Since few other pitchers of Flaherty's talent level are available, the Cardinals will likely receive several offers and have the power to choose which team will give them the best return.
The Cardinals are the team that other squads should look to when it comes to pitching. Flaherty, Jordan Montgomery, and nearly all the bullpen should be available for negotiations among front offices. The obstacle, though, is the front office's staunch dedication to competing every year. If John Mozeliak, Michael Girsch, and the rest of the front office believe the last-place Cardinals still have a chance to compete, they will once again stubbornly refuse to budge at the trade deadline.
The Cardinals shouldn't be fooled if they improve within the next few weeks. Fans of the St. Louis Blues will remember how Blues general manager Doug Armstrong didn't blink after he had traded away star player Vladimir Tarasenko and the Blues went on a bit of a run. He stuck to his belief that the Blues were not a team that would contend for a Stanley Cup in 2023, and the Cardinals would be wise to follow that same train of thought.
The divisions might not fall into place perfectly next year for the Cardinals to be able to acquire the sort of haul they're poised to gain if they sell off their assets now. It's an unfamiliar place for Mozeliak and company, and the unknown is frightening. But it's time for them to beat other teams to the punch in terms of punting on the season. If they take too long, this window of opportunity to gain talented players will slam shut.