What happened to the 5 free agent shortstops of 2021?

The Free Agent Shortstop class of 2021 was supposed to be the deepest at one particular position since 1976. Did the Cardinals miss out on this opportunity?

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It was a debate during the entire 2021 season among the media and fans of the St. Louis Cardinals. Should the Cardinals try to improve their shortstop position by signing one the five premier free-agent shortstops that would become available after the 2021 season?

In 2017, the Cardinals thought they had found their shortstop of the future in Paul DeJong. The 2015 4th Round pick by the Cardinals had an impressive rookie season where he hit a slash line of .285/.325/.532 with a 121 OPS+ and slugging 25 HR with 65 RBI in only 108 games. To top off that fine season, DeJong finished second in Rookie of the Year voting.

The Cardinals rewarded DeJong in the offseason with a 6-year contract extension which was worth a guaranteed total of $26 million. It also included two option years for a maximum value of $51.5 million. It is the largest agreement with a player who had not yet completed at least one full year of service at the major league level.

But from 2018 to 2022, DeJong's offensive production gradually declined. By 2021, DeJong put up a slash line of .197/.284/.390 with an OPS+ of only 85. Thus, raising the call for the Cardinal front office to take advantage of the free-agent shortstops that would become available after the season's end.

We all know now, the Cardinals elected to pass on this opportunity. DeJong's 2022 season was a disaster, and the Cardinals ended up using Tommy Edman and Edmundo Sosa as their primary shortstops.

Was it the right move for the St. Louis Cardinals? Where did these five FA shortstops end up and how have they done? How have the Cardinals done at the shortstop position since?

Let's take a look at these five first rate shortstops.

1. Trevor Story

At the time, Trevor Story seemed to be a good fit for the Cardinals. He was Nolan Arenado's teammate at Colorado, and a move to St. Louis to play again with Arenado had a natural look.

Story had a six-year slash line as a Rocky of .272/.340/.523 with a 112 OPS+. He also earned two Silver Slugger awards, and made two All-Star Appearances. He also accumulated a 26.9 WAR while in Colorado, with his best two years being in 2018 and 2019, when he won his Silver Slugger Awards and made both of his All-Star Appearances.

Defensively, Story is a capable if not Gold Glove shortstop. His OAA(outs above average) for the years he was in Colorado was 18, which put him at 13th among all Shortstops in baseball.

In March of 2022, Story signed a six-year, $140 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, and was moved to 2nd base. The Texas native had an injury-plagued year in Boston and only played in 94 games. He hit a slash line of .238/.303/.434 with a 100 OPS+, along with 16HR and 66RBI.

During the off-season, Trevor Story underwent surgery on his right ulnar collateral ligament and started the 2023 season on the 60-day IL.