By: Noah Wright
Photo: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals have extended young middle infielder, Paul DeJong (24 Y/O) to a guaranteed 6 years, $26 million, and two club options. Though DeJong could earn up to $51.5 million over 8 years. His guaranteed $26 million breaks White Sox’ Tim Anderson’s record of $25 million over 5 years with less than one year of service.
Never a top 100 prospect (Drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 draft), DeJong broke out as one of last year’s best NL rookies. After 2016’s breakout rookie, Aledmys Diaz, struggled, The Cards decided to option him to Triple-A, giving DeJong his chance. In his first year, DeJong hit for an impressive .285/.325/.531 line to go with 25 home runs, and 65 RBI’s, and also had a very high BABIP of .349 last year. However, he struggled with plate discipline last year (124 strikeouts in 443 PA’s, resulting in a 28% K rate), while only walking 21 times. This shot up some concerns with his OBP. With the glove DeJong was a slightly below average 2B (-1 DRS, -.5 UZR in 158 innings played), he rated as an ok defender at shortstop (0 DRS, 1.8 UZR in 747.1 innings played), the position he mainly played in 2017, and will play in 2018.
DeJong’s impressive rookie season led to him finishing 2nd in NL Rookie Of The Year Voting (Behind Dodger rookie star, Cody Bellinger, and ahead Pirates’ slugger, Josh Bell). He earned second place by having the second highest batting average of NL rookies with at least 300 at-bats, and the 4th most homeruns of NL rookies as well.