What should the St. Louis Cardinals do with Paul DeJong? It’s complicated

Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on April 21, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on April 21, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /
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What should the St. Louis Cardinals do with Paul DeJong? It’s complicated, and an answer may come sooner rather than later.

When the St. Louis Cardinals optioned Paul DeJong to Triple-A Memphis, it seemingly marked the end of his tenure in the organization. He was struggling mightily at the plate, Tommy Edman shifted to shortstop and the Nolan Gorman era started at second base.

But DeJong has seemingly broken out of his slump and now is forcing the Cardinals to ask themselves a difficult question: what do they do with him?

In 27 games in Triple-A, DeJong is hitting .246/.296/.546 with an .842 OPS, nine home runs and 29 RBI. He looks exactly like the player that the Cardinals envisioned him becoming, hence why they didn’t sign a high-profile shortstop in a historically great free-agent class. But his struggles to begin the season – .130/.209/.208 with a .417 OPS – forced them to option him to the minors. And that’s part of what makes this decision so difficult.

My guess, and it is nothing more than a guess, is that this makes DeJong a potential trade chip for teams that need a shortstop. He is young enough (28) and cheap enough (signed to a six-year, $26 million deal through 2023 with two club options) that most teams will be able to take on his contract with no problems whatsoever.

The option is on the table, however, for the Cardinals to call DeJong back up and have him be a veteran piece to come off the bench. But with Gorman succeeding in the majors and Tommy Edman continuing to be a valuable piece at shortstop, it will be difficult for him to earn consistent playing time without an injury forcing their hand.

Having Gorman at second base and Edman at shortstop with DeJong coming off the bench is certainly a nice luxury to have, especially if DeJong’s recent play is a sign that he has finally turned the corner. No matter what, it’s nice to see him bounce back. He has been a model teammate and took his demotion to Triple-A about as well as any player could have in his situation.

But it gives the Cardinals a tough question to answer – and with the way he’s playing, forces president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to answer it sooner than later.

Next. St. Louis Cardinals were right to trust Nolan Gorman, other young bats. dark