By Patrick Kelly
After almost a decade in St. Louis, the Cardinals have elected to decline second baseman Kolten Wong’s option for the 2021 season. The 30-year-old from Hilo, Hawaii, has one Gold Glove and is a finalist for a second this year. The option was worth $12.5 million, but like many teams, the Cardinals will have to make these kinds of cuts because of the uncertainty that lies ahead.
In the shortened season, Wong played in 53 games, during which he had just one home run and 16 RBI while batting .265 with a .350 on-base percentage. Both are higher his than career average. With Wong, as well as catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Adam Wainwright becoming free agents, the only Gold-Glove winner the Cardinals have left is first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
While Wong is departing, it doesn’t necessarily leave a gap in the infield. Although Wong’s defense will be missed, Tommy Edman is slated to be second baseman. With Wong entrenched at the position, it limited where Edman could play. Now, manager Mike Shildt can use Edman as he wishes.
Still, the loss of Wong will be big and the Cardinals will feel it if they can’t find a replacement. Signing Molina and possibly Wainwright will make the offseason less of a headache than it will already be, but this appears to exacerbate the team’s needs. Wong was a solid piece at the top of the lineup and with that missing, the Cardinals not only will be asking more of their young guys, but will also potentially be more desperate to find the big bat they need.