He has been linked to the Dodgers in the past, though he has also has a bit of a checkered past with the Cardinals (while with the Reds, he kicked St. Louis catcher Jason LaRue in the head and basically ended his career). Cueto still has ace stuff but would slide in well behind either Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
Fallback options: Free agent Mike Leake
The right-hander underperformed (2-5, 4.07 ERA) after being traded to the Giants this past summer compared to his first few months in Cincinnati (9-5, 3.56 ERA) in 2015. St. Louis is familiar with him from his Reds days, and Leake would be a nice fit in the lefty-heavy Dodgers rotation.
Getty ImagesJason O. Watson
Fallback options: Free agent Hisashi Iwakuma
He already is being linked strongly to the Dodgers, and could come at a discount after a 2015 season in which he made only 20 starts because of a lat strain. Iwakuma’s stats (3.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 107 ERA+) stayed nearly identical to those from 2014.
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
Fallback options: Free agent Yovani Gallardo
Back in July, the Dodgers were reported to have strong interest in Gallardo, who ultimately remained with the Rangers and helped fuel their late-season surge. He quietly pitched remarkably well, posting the lowest ERA (3.42) in any full season of his career. And he definitely caught St. Louis' eye during his career with Milwaukee.
Getty ImagesRon Jenkins
Fallback option: Free agent Scott Kazmir
After recapturing his early-career form with the A’s (2.38 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 1.08 WHIP), Kazmir slumped following his trade to the Astros (4.17 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 1.39 WHIP). Because he is a lefty, he might not interest the Dodgers as much as the Cardinals, but Kazmir’s price also is likely to be more budget-friendly.
Getty ImagesBob Levey
Fallback options: Braves' Shelby Miller
By now, it should be clear that no one on the Braves’ roster is untouchable – not even a 25-year-old ace who was a first-time All-Star in 2015. Atlanta and L.A. (and Miami) pulled off a mega-deal this past July, so there’s some history there. Could Miller return to St. Louis only a year after being shipped away? Crazier things have happened.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
Fallback options: Mets' Matt Harvey
All has been quiet on the Harvey front lately, but he entered the offseason with plenty of trade speculation surrounding him. The Mets need bats, and if they decide they can’t afford to buy them, perhaps they will trade for them. And both the Dodgers and Cardinals are loaded with young outfielders.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
Fallback options: Nationals' Stephen Strasburg
Like Harvey, Strasburg was a popular name in trade speculation by the end of the season. With a new manager in place and Washington looking to make changes after a dismal 2015 season, Strasburg makes one heck of a trade chip.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
Fallback options: A's Sonny Gray
Sure, the A’s front-office execs continue to deny any rumors about Gray’s availability, but we’ve heard Billy Beane say similar things before -- right before making blockbuster deals. Oakland is notorious for stockpiling young talent, then dealing it away before it gets expensive.
Getty ImagesDavid Banks
Fallback options: Indians' Carlos Carrasco
Dating back to last summer, the Indians have resisted the urge to deal a starter. But with the lineup in need of bats, it might become necessary to move Carrasco. And the Dodgers have a couple of outfielders (Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson) who could fill offensive void in Cleveland. Ditto for the Cardinals (Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk).
Getty ImagesEd Zurga
Fallback options: White Sox's Chris Sale
Although Sale appears to fall into the 'untouchable ace' category, the White Sox will have to consider a trade if the right offer comes along. Chicago hasn’t been able to win with him, so perhaps it’s time to cash in while Sale’s value is high.