It’s too early for the St. Louis Cardinals to give up on Paul DeJong, but with each game he struggles, it becomes more tempting.
This offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals elected to roll with Paul DeJong instead of pursuing Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, Javier Baez or Carlos Correa in what was dubbed as the best free-agent shortstop class in MLB history.
It was a decision that the Cardinals made for a multitude of reasons. One, DeJong’s contract: he is signed for six years, $26 million with two club options, a contract that is extremely team-friendly and that gives the front office should he bounce out of a two-year long slump. Second, he has hit at least 19 home runs in his last four full seasons, including a 30-homer season in 2019 when he was an All-Star.
So far, however, the Cardinals’ decision to go with DeJong over any of the shortstops mentioned above looks like a mistake. In eight games this season, DeJong is hitting .167/.286/.333 with one home run and three RBI.
But it’s too early for the Cardinals to give up on DeJong. Yes, this looks like a carbon copy of last season – heck, it’s actually worse – but this is a very small sample size. It’s far more likely that the team waits until midseason, or somewhere around there, before starting to re-evaluate their options. After all, it’s only fair, and pulling the plug on DeJong now would make their decision not to pursue any of the shortstops look even worse than it already is.
There is immense pressure on DeJong to improve and if he doesn’t, he’ll soon hear it from fans at Busch Stadium. Then his job status will come into question, with the Cardinals being able to slide Tommy Edman to shortstop and have Nolan Gorman at second base if that does come to fruition.
We are not at that point yet. But with each game that DeJong struggles, the Cardinals will get closer to moving on from DeJong and moving forward with their future in Gorman.