And since you have already paid for Essentials Plus, I can see how something like Starwind makes sense to pool your storage together. And I like the idea of single CPU. Even though your vSphere license covers up to 2 CPU in each host, you can certainly add a physical CPU later and only if needed to save a little cost on the front side.
I saw VxRail mentioned, and I saw Starwind mentioned. But there is another option here. You could go single CPU and license vSAN for either two or 3 hosts. A two host configuration does require a witness (basically a VM that must run outside the cluster, even if on a free ESXi host), where a 3-node cluster would not. With vSAN Standard, you can do a hybrid vSAN and use disk groups made up of one caching drive (SSD) and multiple capacity drives. With a 3-node cluster, there would be a copy of each VMDK on two hosts in the cluster and a witness component on the 3rd host, allowing one host to be put in maintenance node or even to completely fail without losing data.
Remember, as you are looking to do this, let your decision fall on something that will give you more capacity, better performance, and easy of management for future upgrades so you can stop focusing quite so much on keeping the lights on and use more time to innovate on other projects. Regardless of what you go with, I would plan this project so that you leave open drive bays in the hosts you are getting so you can scale up the storage in the future if you have the need.