Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Cardinals demote Paul DeJong to Triple-A as shortstop’s season-long slump continues

The Cardinals have sent struggling shortstop Paul DeJong to Triple-A Memphis. Several aspects of the story are newsworthy because they contain Tommy Edman, a star prospect and DeJong’s demise. 

DeJong, 28, was Rookie of the Year runner-up in the NL in 2017 and an All-Star in 2019, but things have been progressively going downhill at the plate. His OPS+, for example, has respectively gone 121, 102, 99, 87 and 85 per season before 2022. This year, he’s hitting .130/.209/.208 (26 OPS+) with 25 strikeouts in 86 plate appearances. 

There was such promise with DeJong early on that the Cardinals signed him to a six-year, $26 million deal in the spring of 2018. It also contained club options for 2024 and 2025. 

For the time being, at least, the Cardinals are looking to go with Tommy Edman at short. He’s been a Swiss army knife on defense in his time in the majors, having spent time at second, third, short and all three outfield positions. Edman has also flashed nice offensive upside, including a breakout-type start this season. He’s hitting .292/.393/.458 (154 OPS+) with three doubles, two triples, three homers, 14 RBI, 18 runs and seven steals in 27 games. 

And with second base being a bit open, the eyes then immediately go to the name Nolan Gorman. In 26 games in Triple-A this year, he’s hitting .307/.360/.693 with three doubles, 12 homers, 18 RBI and 23 runs. Yes, he already has 12 home runs and they’ve come in 101 at-bats. 

For the time being, that fanfare will have to wait. Instead of Gorman, the Cardinals have selected the contract of Kramer Robertson as a corresponding move to DeJong. Robertson, 27, has played a lot of second, third and shortstop in the minors. In 23 Triple-A games so far this season, he’s hit .225/.380/.400 with five doubles, three homers and six stolen bases. 

Edman surely marks a downgrade on defense from DeJong, but the offense in the case of the latter has just become far too untenable. Plus, the offensive upside of an infield with Edman and eventually Gorman alongside Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado is enough to forget a step backward at one position on defense. 

For now, the Cardinals will see if either DeJong can get his bat figured out in Triple-A or Edman sticks at short. Perhaps once they have a better idea there, it’ll be Gorman time. 

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