If you're a team in need of some major offensive upgrades this offseason, I'm not sure this is the free agent class for you.
Shohei Ohtani, Cody Bellinger, and Matt Chapman make a great trio at the top, but after that, things get...thin. Can I interest you in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Rhys Hoskins, Teosacar Hernandez, JD Martinez, and Jorge Soler?
It's not a secret that the St. Louis Cardinals are looking for pitching, pitching, and more pitching this offseason. They have already brought in Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson, and Lance Lynn to stabilize their rotatoin, but there's still an arguement to go out and grab another starter and bullpen help. Outside of maybe finding a bench bat at some point, I highly doubt the Cardinals dip their toes in the position player market. But the Cardinals should be keeping a close eye on the bats available in free agency, as they could use that to their advantage on the trade market.
If you're a team like the Guardians, Giants, or Yankees, who ranked in the bottom-10 in OPS in 2023 and have playoff aspirations in 2024, you're likely going to need to look for a bat from a team like the Cardinals on top of any free agent moves they may make. The Marlins, Mariners, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, and Rays could all find themselves in that position as well.
Look at the free agent position player pool again. If Tommy Edman was a free agent, would he be one of the top 5 position players available on the market? I think so. Tyler O'Neill probably makes the top-10 and is someone teams hope can return to being a masher at the plate. Even someone like Dylan Carlson would provide a lot of intrigue on the open market.
Are Edman, O'Neill, or Carlson going to get you a cost-controlled ace in return? No way. But they could be a major part of acquiring a Tyler Glasnow (trade ideas for the Rays' ace can be found here) or Shane Bieber type. They could also net the Cardinals a back-end rotation starter who is cost-controlled. Their value is real, and the Cardinals could take advantage of that.
Now, if St. Louis wanted to get bold here, think about how desirable Nolan Gorman or Brendan Donovan are compared to the free-agent market. Outside of Ohtani, Bellinger, and Chapman, both of them would easily be the best players available in free agency. The Cardinals have the added bonus of Gorman and Donovan being cost-controlled for a long time as well, so in terms of a trade, they are going to take a lot to acquire.
If I were John Mozeliak, I'd be doing everything in my power to sign at least one top starter, but really wanting two, and then making a trade to acquire a third arm using one or two of Edman, Carlson, and O'Neill along with prospects. They've already grabbed three starters, but they really need to figure out how to take this rotation to the next level via trade.
Derrick Goold has already linked the Cardinals (subscription required) to the White Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Mariners for potential deals, along with the Rays in a Glasnow deal. The options are plentiful, the interest in the Cardinals bats is real, and now it's time for the Cardinals front office to get aggressive.