Detroit Tigers: 5 shortstop trade targets

Miguel Rojas in action against the New York Mets. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Miguel Rojas in action against the New York Mets. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers Shortstop Trade Option Number 2 – Paul DeJong

Detroit Tigers
Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong singles during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Paul DeJong has had a very interesting MLB career. As a rookie in 2017 he looked overmatched at shortstop, but the Cardinals lived with it because he hit .285 with 25 home runs in just 108 games. His offensive production predictably slipped due to some correction in his batted-ball luck, but at the same time he was making huge strides on defense. In 2019 he hit just .233, but he made the All-Star team and played plus defense at shortstop while bashing 30 home runs, easily the most ever by a Cardinals shortstop.

Things haven’t been so great since then, though. DeJong still played strong defense this year, but his offense dropped dramatically, with career lows in batting average (.197) and wRC+ (86). Cardinals fans discussed moving on, and then the team seemingly did. Edmundo Sosa saw more starts at shortstop in September/October than DeJong.

Complicating matters is DeJong’s contract, which guarantees him $6 million in 2022 and $9 million in 2023, with club options for 2024 and 2025. That’s a bargain for the 4-5 WAR player he was in 2019, but a bit rich for the 1.6 WAR player he was this season. It would be a calculated risk for the Tigers, but they probably wouldn’t have to part with much to land DeJong:

Michael Fulmer developed into Detroit’s most reliable bullpen stopper this year, and while he would add more depth to St. Louis’ strong bullpen, the Cardinals could also transition him back into a starter, or use him in a hybrid role. Jacob Robson is a bit of a throw-in here, as he’s likely to be removed from Detroit’s 40-man roster soon, and would provide some emergency outfield depth for the Cardinals.