Only to acquire elite talent
Dylan Carlson, Tommy Edman, Brendan Donovan, Gordon Graceffo, Ivan Herrera, Jordan Hicks, Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, Leonardo Bernal, Jonathan Mejia
These are players and prospects that I would only be willing to move if it brings in top-end talent for this club.
Here's something that everyone just needs to accept as a reality. If you want to acquire elite talent, you have to be willing to part with valuable talent. Putting together trade packages of your least favorite Cardinals' and a random prospect does not get you top-end pitching talent or whatever you're trying to trade for on the market. Side note, that truly makes the Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado trades that much more impressive.
I love the names on this list, and of course, I don't want to move on from them, but if you're not willing to trade guys from this list or the untouchables, then I'm sorry, you're not acquiring a significant talent in return.
Dylan Carlson, Tommy Edman, and Brendan Donovan are the most valuable players on this list. Alone, none of them get you the kind of upgrade most fans are wanting to see. But if two of them are packaged together or with a few other names from this category, you begin to have something cooking.
Gordon Graceffo has had a down 2023, and I still think the Cardinals would prefer to hold onto him since they lack arms with bright futures, but if they had to part with an arm, he's the top one I would designate. Ivan Herrera has been so good in Triple-A this year but is clearly blocked from a long-term future in St. Louis.
Jordan Hicks has pitched his way from a borderline DFA candidate to now a guy I would be very careful not to trade away or let walk in free agency. He's only 26, and a guy I think St. Louis needs to give the closer reigns to and lock up beyond this year. Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos can form a formidable trio with Hicks, which is needed to go deep into October.
Leonardo Bernal and Jonathan Mejia are guys I think are tricky to trade away, as they represent the "high-end" of the Cardinals' "down the road" prospects. From an organizational building standpoint, you need guys who are multiple years away so that you are constantly churning out young talent. I think these two guys who be toward the top of the Cardinals' prospect ranking by next year.