Cardinals send struggling DeJong to AAA
The Cardinals executed a roster move Tuesday that had begun to feel inevitable with regard to their embattled starting shortstop.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The Cardinals executed a roster move Tuesday that had begun to feel inevitable with regard to their embattled starting shortstop.
St. Louis announced Tuesday afternoon that the team has optioned Paul DeJong to Triple-A Memphis and selected the contract of infielder Kramer Robertson. DeJong’s struggles at the plate this season had finally reached a breaking point for the Cardinals, as his batting average had dropped to .130 with a .417 OPS.
DeJong had accumulated 25 strikeouts in 86 plate appearances and simply didn’t pass the eye test with regard to the notion that he was on the verge of busting out of the slump. And after fielding errors had begun to creep into his game defensively, there wasn’t much of a justification for leaving the 28-year-old shortstop in the daily batting order.
The demotion comes as a consequence of DeJong’s stark decline offensively in recent seasons. Though he provided solid offensive production across his first three MLB seasons, DeJong had compiled a sub-.700 OPS in both 2020 and 2021. He entered the 2022 season with seemingly a final opportunity to turn around his offensive struggles before the Cardinals would be forced into another direction at the shortstop position. The returns on that ultimatum, of course, have gone exceptionally poorly over the first month-plus of the campaign, leading the Cardinals into Tuesday’s uncomfortable decision.
2023 will represent the final guaranteed year of DeJong’s contract. He’s due more than $9 million for next year, with two team option years to follow. But given the present circumstances of his standing with the Cardinals, it’s difficult to imagine St. Louis picking up the tab on any future option years at this juncture.
Robertson has posted a .225/.380/.400 batting line in 80 at-bats this season at Memphis. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Robertson has experience this season at second base, third base, and perhaps most importantly for the Cardinals, shortstop. Though he doesn’t necessarily profile as a heavy offensive threat at the big-league level, Robertson may get an opportunity to prove his worthiness against MLB pitching. DeJong, meanwhile, will draw the everyday opportunities as the Memphis shortstop as he seeks to escape the offensive drought that has plagued him this season in St. Louis.
Tommy Edman is another candidate for consideration at the shortstop position for the Cardinals while DeJong is in the minors. Edman had enjoyed a strong start to the season offensively, and as a Gold Glove Award winner at second base last season, it’s conceivable that his defensive abilities would translate to respectability at the more difficult shortstop spot. Edman did play shortstop throughout his minor-league career, but it hasn’t been a position the Cardinals have shown a willingness to try him at during his tenure with St. Louis.
It’s possible, though, that DeJong’s departure to Triple-A could signal a change of heart for the team in that regard. Of course, that does not appear to be the case for Tuesday night’s lineup at Busch Stadium against the Orioles, as Edman is in the lineup at second base with Brendan Donovan starting at shortstop.
Another clear possibility for playing time at shortstop would be Edmundo Sosa. He started at shortstop for Double-A Springfield Tuesday afternoon as he makes his way back to the roster from the injured list.
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