The Cardinals made little effort to re-sign Kolten Wong.
The Milwaukee Brewers swooped in and signed free-agent second baseman Kolten Wong after the St. Louis Cardinals declined to pick up his $12.5 million club option.
There were reportedly hard feelings from Wong after the move, perhaps hinting that it was unlikely that he would return in the first place. The Cardinals, however, had interest in retaining Wong at a cheaper rate. But Wong revealed in an interview with reporters after the Brewers signing was official that there was “minimal” contact between him and the Cardinals after his option was declined.
“It took a little bit to kind of get my head around the whole thing,” Wong said. “Obviously being a Cardinal for so long as I’ve been, there’s a lot of memories, there’s a lot of good things I created there, but also seeing from across how the Brewers play, how they go about their business and the type of team this is, it just fits my mold really well.”
The terms – two years, $18 million with a club option that could push the value to $26 million over three years – are modest and makes it hard to understand why the Cardinals didn’t make a stronger push to retain Wong. But the Cardinals appear content with their internal options, though it would not be a surprise if they looked to bring in an external option.
The top in-house candidate, Tommy Edman, has shown flashes in the past and would be the primary second baseman should the Cardinals not sign anyone. But he struggled this past season, which raises questions about how he would perform over a 162-game season. Of course, there were plenty of others who struggled in 2020 – Christian Yelich and other stars – so perhaps not much should be taken from Edman’s down season.
But it is a risk the Cardinals appear willing to take, especially after letting Wong leave for a division rival. And it could come back to haunt them come postseason time.