Evaluating the St. Louis Cardinals’ options with Paul DeJong

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Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 1, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 1, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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St Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong is struggling mightily and with a historic free-agent SS class coming, what should they do?

When the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Nolan Arenado, not only did they envision adding a big bat to the lineup, they thought that his presence would take the pressure off other hitters. At least, that’s how they drew it up.

That has not been the case this season, as the Cardinals’ lineup is one of the most inconsistent in baseball and a large reason why the team sits with a 1.5 percent chance of advancing to the postseason. But there has perhaps not been a hitter who has underwhelmed more than Paul DeJong — and moving on from him in the offseason is going to prove difficult.

DeJong, 28, is signed through 2023, making salaries of $6 million and then $9 million with two club option years. There is still time for him to turn it around — he says he has traced back his struggles to a mechanical problem in his swing — but with there being an elite free-agent shortstop class this winter, the pressure is on him to produce results sooner than later.

Even if DeJong does bounce back, will it convince the Cardinals to give him another shot at being the starting shortstop in 2022? It shouldn’t. That said, it’s highly unlikely the Cardinals will be serious players for any of Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, Trevor Story or Corey Seager, considering they are more than one player away from being a legitimate contender in the National League.

Expect the Cardinals to bring in competition for DeJong if they are unable to trade him, which should be tough considering his salaries and .198/.288/.377 slash line with 14 home runs and 34 RBI. If he turns it around, perhaps a team that misses on one of the top shortstops this winter gets desperate and gives the Cardinals a call about DeJong.

But first, he needs to fix the mechanical problem in his swing. And he admits that he’s feeling the pressure.

“You can feel it,” he said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “These fans are anxious. Mad. Booing. Angry. Riled-up, like the way they were the other night. Of course, we can feel all that down here. We have a responsibility. These fans expect us to win.”

Next. A look at the St. Louis Cardinals’ dwindling postseason chances. dark

They also expect better production from the shortstop position.

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