The contract, which will take effect this season, buys out a couple of Wong’s arbitration years, and gives the team control of the 25-year-old through his age 30 season.
Wong entered the spring with a little more than two years worth of MLB service time, and hadn’t yet hit arbitration. The deal will pay him $1.25M in 2016, $2.5M in 2017, $4M in ’18, $6.5M in ’19, and $10.25M in 2020. The new pact also includes a $12.5M option for the 2021 season with a $1M buyout.
Wong had a solid year in 2015 hitting to a .262/.321/.386 slashline, while also hitting 11 HRs with 61 RBIs and 15 SBs after finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting the season before. After playing 150 games at second base for the club last season, Wong now has a secure spot in the Cardinals’ long-term plans. The club also acquired fellow second baseman Jedd Gyorko from the Padres earlier this offseason, who likewise is under team control through 2020.
While Wong possesses great speed, and is decent contact hitter, he’s still probably won’t unseat perennial All-Star Matt Carpenter from the club’s leadoff spot in the lineup. Wong’s on-base percentage was .321 last season, while Carpenter’s was .365. However, after Carpenter lead the team with 28 HRs last season, the club could explore Wong hitting leadoff, with Carpenter dropping down into more of a run producing spot in the lineup…possibly second or third in front of Matt Holliday and Randall Grichuk.
While the club now has a number of viable infield options, the decision to lock up Wong now, before he develops further and enhances his value is a good one, which ultimately works out well financially for both the player and the team.
Wong’s new deal reportedly does not include a no-trade clause.