Why Paul DeJong could soon be called up by the St. Louis Cardinals

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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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Why Paul DeJong could soon be called up by the St. Louis Cardinals as he continues to play well with Triple-A Memphis.

This past offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals front office elected to go with Paul DeJong rather than pursue a generational class of free-agent shortstops. It turned out to be a massive mistake, as DeJong struggled and was eventually optioned to the minors in hopes of recapturing his swing and confidence.

That’s exactly what has happened in the minors, as DeJong has hit nine home runs with 30 RBI in 33 games in Triple-A. He’s still slashing only .222/.270/.482, however, but his .751 OPS would be the highest it’s been since he was an All-Star in 2017 and significantly higher than what it was before he was optioned (.417).

In an interview with The Athletic, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said that DeJong is “already making it difficult” on whether to call him back up to the majors. Mozeliak added that “it’s more like lets just see where we are in a week,” but that if he can continue to produce like this in the minors that “I think he can have a positive impact up here.”

If/when DeJong is called up by the Cardinals, he is unlikely to return as a starter, barring injury. The team appears set with Tommy Edman at shortstop and Nolan Gorman at second base and will not want to mess with Gorman’s development by lessening his playing time, especially since he has flashed in 99 plate appearances.

But DeJong can be a useful bat off the bench and fill in defensively in the late innings. Depth, especially late in the season and in the postseason, is key. And if DeJong can contribute in that role, surely the Cardinals would take that. There’s also a possibility that DeJong can emerge as a trade candidate for a shortstop-needy team (A’s? Angels?).

We are not at that point yet, but DeJong is making this a difficult decision for the Cardinals front office, and we’ll surely have some sort of clarity between now and Aug. 2, and perhaps a lot sooner than that.

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