Who is the biggest threat to the Cardinals in the NL Central?

The NL Central is wide open, meaning that the Cardinals have a clear path back to contention. But it won't be easy, and these two teams are their biggest threats to return to the top of the division.

Chicago Cubs Introduce Shōta Imanaga
Chicago Cubs Introduce Shōta Imanaga / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages
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Spring Training is just a couple of weeks away. For the Cardinals, pitchers and catchers report on February 14.

That means it's almost time to dig into making predictions and determining which team will have the most success in 2024.

The NL Central is wide open, as it was entering last season. It's hard to determine a clear favorite since it is one of the weaker divisions in the league.

But the Cardinals could easily emerge as the best team within the Central and reclaim the top spot in the division. They won the NL Central with 93 wins in 2022.

Things are different this time around, as all teams play each other at least once. This is the second year of the new schedule format. This means that it won't be as easy to win a weak division when the Cardinals aren't playing NL Central opponents all the time.

And even with the NL Central being a weak division, that doesn't mean that the Cardinals' path to the top is going to be easy. Other teams have made some big moves this offseason and will more than likely challenge the Cardinals for the top spot.

For example, the Cubs have signed Shota Imanaga and may not be done just yet. The Reds have also had a respectable offseason, signing Frankie Montas and Nick Martinez to bolster the pitching staff.

I think it's safe to say that these are the two biggest threats to the Cardinals in the NL Central, especially with the Brewers likely taking a step back and the Pirates still a year or two away.

In this piece, we will rank the Reds and Cubs and determine who the bigger threat is.