When the St Louis Cardinals declined Kolten Wong’s club option, thus allowing him to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers, they made a calculated gamble that Tommy Edman could adequately replace him.
The organization understood it was a risk. Wong is one of baseball’s premier defensive second baseman and was a foundational piece for a decade in St. Louis. Edman, meanwhile, was nothing more than an unknown, a player who had shown promise in 2019 but did not replicate that same production in 2020.
So far, Edman looks more than capable of replacing Wong. He is hitting .298/.352/.420 with two home runs and six RBI in 131 at-bats. His 39 hits rank fourth in MLB behind Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, outfielder J.D. Martinez, and Baltimore Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins. He has the ability to play all over the field, something that has come in handy with the outfield dealing with injuries and inconsistencies to start the season.
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Edman’s breakout makes an already dangerous lineup even more potent. Their infield of Paul Goldschmidt, Edman, Paul Dejong and Nolan Arenado is easily one of baseball’s best. And his emergence could bring up questions on where to put Nolan Gorman defensively, though it’s very possible that he plays second base while Edman shifts to the outfield.
For this season, Edman’s breakout has paved the way for the Cardinals to lead the National League Central after getting off to a slow start. It may be tough for him to continue to produce at this rate, but if they can get anything close to this kind of production, second base is no longer an area of concern in 2021 and beyond.
It means that the Cardinals were right – at least so far – in their gamble of moving on from Wong. And it’s also one less thing for president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to worry about at the trade deadline.