Even if the St. Louis Cardinals don’t sign an elite shortstop, Paul DeJong remains a realistic trade candidate.
Every indication, whether it’s from a report or from the mouth of president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, indicates that Paul DeJong will be the St. Louis Cardinals’ Opening Day shortstop.
Yet DeJong continues to be mentioned as a trade possibility, this time by Katie Woo of The Athletic who says the Cardinals could look to move on from the shortstop to bolster the organizational pitching depth.
Now, let’s be clear: this is not a report from Woo. This appears to be an educated guess in a piece that The Athletic asked all its writers to participate in. But her reasoning behind a potential DeJong trade makes sense and is feasible, especially since it does not require the Cardinals to sign either Carlos Correa or Trevor Story.
It comes down to the Cardinals’ organizational infield depth, especially with Nolan Gorman looming in the minors. He’s going to debut in 2022 and when he’s called up, the team will want him to play a lot. It could be at shortstop. It could be at second base. It could even be at the designated hitter spot if the National League implements it, as expected.
But his clearest path to meaningful playing time is at shortstop and trading DeJong, who has struggled in recent seasons, would make a whole lot of sense. Besides, it’s not like DeJong is not a talented player. He’s hit at least 19 home runs in four of five seasons and his five-year, $26 million deal with two club options is cheap enough that a team priced out of Correa or Story could be enticed to pull the trigger on a deal.
The odds remain strongly in favor of DeJong being the Cardinals’ Opening Day shortstop. But the trade whispers surrounding him are not going away and will only grow louder if he struggles, especially with Gorman on the verge of debuting.