The St. Louis Cardinals haven't done much this offseason, but the moves they have made have reinforced the core of a team that looks destined to be a World Series contender for the next few seasons. And sometimes, that's all it takes to put together a successful offseason of work.

The Cardinals two biggest moves have involved signing star catcher Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million deal and re-signing longtime ace Adam Wainwright to come back for one last season in 2023. The retirements of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina certainly loom large, as does the departure of Jose Quintana in free agency, but this team is in a good spot.

Of course, no team is perfect, and it makes sense for the Cardinals to continue exploring ways to improve their roster this offseason. One potential avenue would be through the trade market, as there are a couple of big name players who could be available. So with that in mind, let's take a look at the perfect trade the Cardinals could make this offseason and see why it would benefit them so greatly.

Cardinals Perfect Offseason Trade

Acquire Pablo Lopez from the Marlins

The Cardinals knew their rotation needed some work midway through the 2022 campaign, so that led them to swing a pair of deals for Quintana and Jordan Montgomery at the trade deadline. Those two additions propelled the Cardinals to the top of the National League Central, and while they flamed out in the playoffs, it's clear that they managed to shore up their biggest area of need with those moves.

In a sense, the Cardinals didn't really need to keep Quintana around. The front of their rotation is pretty solid, with Miles Mikolas leading the way alongside Wainwright and Montgomery. Dakota Hudson and Steven Matz round things out, although they could admittedly be upgraded from. That leads us to Pablo Lopez, who is one of the best pitchers on the trade market this offseason.

Lost in the greatness that came from Sandy Alcantara's Cy Young campaign, Lopez loomed as a reliable number two starter who gave the Miami Marlins a sneaky good duo leading their rotation. But the Marlins have been fielding trade offers for Lopez once again this offseason, and the Cardinals seem like the perfect team to swoop in and make a deal for him.

Lopez is coming off the most complete season of his career in 2022 (10-10, 3.75 ERA, 174 K, 1.17 WHIP) and proved that he could stay healthy throughout the course of a full season. Considering how he hadn't made more than 21 starts in a season prior to 2022, when he made 32 starts, this is a big deal for teams taking a look at Lopez.

There are a lot of things to like about Lopez when considering a potential trade for him. First off, he's still pretty young, as he's only going to be 27 by the time the 2023 season starts up, so he's really not even in his prime just yet. He's also under team control for two more seasons, meaning that he will be a steal until he hits free agency after the 2024 season.

While the Cardinals have a decent rotation as is, they could definitely use another top-end starter in Lopez. They don't have a true ace, as Mikolas, Wainwright, and Montgomery profile better as second or third starters. Lopez isn't necessarily an ace himself, but when he's at the top of his game, he's one of the best pitchers in the game.

Lopez would definitely be a pricy addition, but considering how good he has proven to be early on in his career, and how there is still a lot of room for him to grow, he'd be a worthwhile investment. The Cardinals want to continue moving their way towards being a true World Series contender, and with other teams like the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies loading up, they are going to have to be aggressive.

The addition of Lopez would give the Cardinals a very deep rotation, while allowing Matz or Hudson to hang around as an extra starter for when someone inevitably gets injured. Depth isn't important until you need it, and you always need it at one point or another throughout the course of a 162-game season.

The Cardinals haven't done much this offseason, but it hasn't really mattered because their roster is in a good spot. But in order to put their roster in a great spot, they could pull off this big move for Lopez and prove their mean business in the NL, which is chalk full of contenders. It may cost them a big price, but it's clear that swinging a trade for Lopez would be the perfect move for the Cardinals to make this offseason.