Cardinals rumors: Japan recruitment, free agent reunions targeted, possible trade chips

  • The Cardinals may hold on trades
  • John Mozeliak is putting together his free agency wish list with one category taking top priority
  • Cardinals players are in Japan recruiting a top free agent

World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan
World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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Free agency has one priority above the rest with clear target

Katie Woo's article for The Athletic also touched on free agency, which is likely to be the player-adding mechanism the Cardinals leverage (rather than trades) this offseason to improve the team's depth and ceiling.

Woo points out the obvious: The rotation was thinned entirely by the trades the team made at the deadline, and backfilling those roles is something the team hopes to do in free agency. Woo astutely notes that the Cardinals' propensity to sign small and medium deals on the open market. With such a need for pitching, they may need to be more aggressive than ever before to get the guys they want.

Woo says that, according to her sources, Sonny Gray is one of the team's top targets. Gray pitched a quality season with the Minnesota Twins, Woo reporting he's open to a return there. He had a AL-leading 2.83 FIP and 0.4 hits per nine innings this season with a sub-3.00 ERA.

Interestingly, the team also remains open to re-signing Jordan Montgomery, who has been a big part of the Texas Rangers push to the ALCS and potentially further. St. Louis traded him at the deadline. Furthermore, Jordan Hicks is on the potential-to-reunite list as well.

If those names don't come off as super flashy, it's because they aren't... Keep in mind, though, it's early stages and the free agency market hasn't materialized. There may also be reason for the Cardinals to hold their cards close to the chest and keep from leaking too much about who they're interested in. Bigger names are surely on their list, even if they haven't been reported just yet.

One such name can be deducted from a trip two Cardinals players have made...