Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to an extension with shortstop Paul DeJong. It’s for six years and $26 million. There are two option years after that — presumably team options — which could bring the total to more than $50 million.
DeJong, who played in 108 games in his rookie 2017 campaign wouldn’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2020 season, and could’ve simply been renewed for less than a million bucks per through then, following three more years in which he’d get incremental raises through arbitration. As such, it’s not hard to understand why he’d jump at the $26 million. Of course, if he continues to perform like he did during his rookie season — he hit .285/.325/.532 with 25 homers (121 OPS+) while finishing second in the Rookie of the Year Award balloting — the Cardinals will have a pretty massive bargain on their hands, including the option to buy out two of what would’ve been his post-free agency years at a bargain rate.
Such is the calculation a young player makes when facing team control for the first six years of his big league career. It’s hard to pass up that kind of money when you can’t tell the future. It’s also the case, though, that a player will have left a lot of money on the table if they fulfill even a portion of their potential. DeJong aired on the side of caution, which is totally understandable. And now the Cardinals have a cost-controlled shortstop for the next six years.