The Cardinals and shortstop Paul DeJong have agreed to a six-year, $26 million extension, as first reported by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The deal also includes two club options that could push its total value to $51.5 million over eight years.
DeJong, 24, finished fourth in the voting for NL Rookie of the Year last season after slashing .285/.325/.532 with 25 homers in 108 games for the Cards. His deal is the largest ever guarantee for a player with less than one year of service time, beating the contract signed by Tim Anderson last year.
DeJong was slated to become a free agent after the 2023 season, so the club option years will extend St. Louis’ control by two seasons. The $26 million guarantee gives the club cost certainty over DeJong’s arbitration seasons and potential free-agent years.
DeJong’s deal is the latest in a long history of spring extensions for the Cardinals, who have finalized deals with Allen Craig and Adam Wainwright (2013), Matt Carpenter (2014), Jon Jay (2015), Kolten Wong (2016), and Carlos Martinez, Yadier Molina and Stephen Piscotty (2017) between February and April over the last five years. The shortstop joins Martinez (through 2023), Wong (through 2021) and Dexter Fowler (through 2021) as Cardinals who are already locked into long-term deals.
DeJong, a fourth rounder out of Illinois State in 2015, is expected to anchor an infield that, barring an additional signing, is slated to include a mix of Carpenter, Wong, Jose Martinez and Jedd Gyorko. St. Louis has had a mildly busy winter, adding Marcell Ozuna, Luke Gregerson, Bud Norris, Miles Mikolas and Dominic Leone while trading away Piscotty, Randal Grichuk and Aledmys Diaz.