This offseason is shaping up to potentially be one of the most exciting offseasons in recent Cardinals history. After losing 91 games and missing the postseason for the first time since 2018, the Cardinals seem to be aware of what they need to do to get back into contention.
It's no secret that the Cardinals need pitching, and they need it badly in order to avoid a repeat performance of the 2023 season. Fortunately, reports from Derrick Goold indicate that Sonny Gray and Aaron Nola are on their radar, which also means that the Cards may finally be willing to do what it takes to get top-level pitching.
I personally believe that an ideal offseason would include the Cardinals adding both Nola and Gray. However, I am skeptical about this, not because I think it's a bad idea or that the Cardinals shouldn't do it, but more so that it's going to be incredibly difficult to land two top-level guys.
Keep in mind that when pursuing Nola, the Cardinals are going to have to bid against the big boys such as the Dodgers, Padres, Phillies, Mets, Yankees, Giants, Cubs, Red Sox, and others. These are the big-market teams that have the most financial resources, and it's not going to be easy to outbid them.
The Cardinals should put their best foot forward, but even if they do, it won't be easy. Fortunately, there are plenty of starters available in free agency. I also do believe that the Cardinals will at least be able to get one of Nola or Gray, with Gray being the most likely.
But in the case of Nola, here are three fallback options if the Cardinals are unable to sign him.