5 things the St. Louis Cardinals should do this offseason
5. Give Paul DeJong another chance
This will undoubtedly be my most controversial choice. I know this is a historically loaded free agent class for shortstops; fans are drooling over the thought of seeing Carlos Correa, Corey Seager or Trevor Story in Cardinal red. But I think the team’s money is better spent elsewhere, because it is my belief that Paul DeJong can rebound from his dismal 2021 season.
DeJong couldn’t get going this season and eventually lost most of his starts to Edmundo Sosa. But there’s reason to remain optimistic about DeJong. His BABIP was abysmal this year at .216, which was lower than Matt Carpenter’s. DeJong’s career BABIP is .283, so he definitely ran into some bad luck this season.
DeJong’s contact this season was poor: With an average exit velocity of 86.3 mph, he was in the eighth percentile of batters. This was never an issue before, though, and I don’t want to write off DeJong from one season of poor contact. He’s also a very streaky hitter, and his average exit velocity could have easily skyrocketed with just a few more games where he was in a groove.
DeJong’s defensive stats paint him as an average shortstop in the field, and while Sosa might be better on that side of the ball, DeJong is no slouch out there. Ideally, DeJong and Sosa will split time at shortstop somewhat evenly, because Sosa has earned more playing time. But I’m not ready to give up on DeJong and trade him, at least not at his lowest value. One year doesn’t signify a career.
If the Cardinals are able to accomplish these tasks, I would say it’s a successful offseason. They’ll fill the holes they need to and push toward the postseason again. The early exit from the playoffs in 2021 was disappointing, but the team is just a few tweaks away from another solid year.