With the MLB General Manager meetings in full swing, there is so much to talk about regarding the St. Louis Cardinals' plans this offseason, and information will continue to evolve and take shape as meetings are had.
There have been rumblings that the Cardinals would like to make at least one move early in the offseason, which has been confirmed by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This doesn't necessarily mean a move will happen early on, but the Cardinals would love to stay a step ahead of the pitching market if possible, rather than have to react after other teams have already made moves.
Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery are not likely to sign early, as Snell and Montgomery are Boras clients (which tend to take longer to sign) and Nola is going to want to see how the Yoshinobu Yamamoto market impacts his. Speaking of Yamamoto, he's the top free-agent starting pitcher on the market, but because of the posting rules, he'll be forced to sign within the 45-day posting window that just began. Once Yamamoto is off the market, the other major dominos will likely begin to fall.
One name in particular who the Cardinals could make an aggressive offer early in free agency is Sonny Gray. Gray is coming off of an elite season with the Minnesota Twins, posting a 2.79 ERA in 184 innings of work, and will be finishing in the top 3 of AL Cy Young voting this year. Gray will be seeking a deal somewhere between two and four years this offseason at a lower annual salary than those top names and the Cardinals are reportedly very interested in his services.
Gray has stated a desire to be close to home, which is Nashville, Tennessee, so signing with St. Louis would certainly help with that. Signing Gray early would give the Cardinals one of their top two starters for their new-look rotation, while also helping them gameplan for the rest of the offseason knowing that one of the major needs is already filled.
It remains to be seen if the Cardinals can pull off an early move for Gray or someone in that tier of pitcher. They could look toward the trade market early as well, with names like Tyler Glasnow and Dylan Cease being the top names to monitor for them.
There is a lot of chatter right now about what the Cardinals' payroll limitations will be in 2024, but reporting continues to indicate they plan to be aggressive in their pursuits to upgrade this rotation. If they do not make the big swings they need to this offseason, it will be a failure, but it remains to be seen how big of swings, and how many of those swings, they will actually make in the coming months.
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