If it goes to free agency the Cardinals are not a contender (trade for Goldschmidt and Arenado)Just sheer speculation here. I think other teams like the Mets will price the Cardinals out of any chance of landing Ohtani even with the extra cash.
If he likes Los Angeles than Dodgers make the most sense. Get paid (happening wherever), contenders and stay in area he likes.
Dodgers dropped some salary so they won't have to pay a competitive balance tax this season barring any big moves. The luxury tax penalties escalate based on how many consecutive years a team has been over. The Dodgers are dipping below that level and if they choose to add money next season than it starts over again at a lower tax rate. It would be something like 50% overage of the amount this season if they stayed in the area they were the last 2 seasons. Getting below that taxable number this season means they will be taxed at the 20% rate in 2024 if they keep it in the lowest overage area. The rates escalate quickly the more you spend and consecutive years you spend over.
I have no idea where he will go. One team that intrigues me if not staying in Los Angeles and becomes a free agent is the Texas Rangers. Rangers just reloaded there pitching staff this offseason. Depends what they do but of now Odorizzi and Perez would be free agents after the season. The other main guys they brought in are on 1-2 year deals with options. Throw Ohtani's bat into this lineup with DeGrom and him 1-2 pitching that would be something to watch.