A Cardinals-Kolten Wong reunion appears unlikely.
The St. Louis Cardinals have maintained interest in re-signing their three internal free agents Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright and Kolten Wong. While a return remains possible for Molina and Wainwright, perhaps the same cannot be said for Wong.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have “not actively pursued” a new deal for Wong, who had a $12.5 million club option declined earlier in the offseason.
It is curious that the Cardinals are not pursuing Wong, considering that Tommy Edman is their internal replacement and no sure thing. It would be wise for the Cardinals, widely considered to be the favorite in the National League Central, to bolster their lineup and defense. Instead, they appear to be going the cheaper route and hoping Edman is capable of adequately filling Wong’s shoes.
It is a risk, and one the Cardinals appear willing to take if they are indeed not actively pursuing Wong. Of course, the money saved from Wong could be used to re-sign Wainwright and Molina. Or it could be used to sign a free agent such as Joc Pederson. The options that the additional $12.5 million gives the Cardinals are many – and could put them in play for most free agents with the exception of Trevor Bauer.
Edman, 25, is a talented young player and some believe that he can properly fill in for Wong if given extensive playing time at second base. But after hitting .304/.350/.500 in 2019, his numbers dropped to .250/.317/.368 in 2020. Perhaps the shortened season and challenges that presented themselves throughout the year played a factor in his struggles. But while he has promise, the Cardinals may be opting for a cheaper question mark at second base rather than a known commodity in Wong.
The door remains open for Wong to return, of course. There is still interest. But there is an increasing likelihood he is playing outside of St. Louis next season.