Wong wants to spend his career in St. Louis
In an offseason where the St. Louis Cardinals tried to sell their city to every free agent out there – including outfielder Jason Heyward. Heyward spurned the Cardinals, who acquired him before the 2015 season from the Atlanta Braves. The team and its players immediately began talking the team, the city and the fans up to Heyward in hopes that the soon to be free agent would want to re-sign with the team.
In the end Heyward decided to take less money to go to the Chicago Cubs. A lot of MLB free agents did the same this year including super utility man Ben Zobrist and most recently outfielder Dexter Fowler. Perhaps it’s the Cubs’ young talented core and their good chance to finally win a World Series or two after a century-long drought. Perhaps it is that they like manager Joe Maddon‘s style.
Whatever the reason, it’s not necessarily that there was something wrong with St. Louis or anywhere else, it just happened that St. Louis couldn’t land a big name free agent and it wasn’t for their lack of trying.
When the team received the word that their five-tool second baseman Kolten Wong, who debuted with the Cardinals in 2013 and is not even arbitration eligible until after the 2016 season, wanted a contract extension they jumped on it.
Wednesday GM John Mozeliak, the Cardinals and Wong announced that they had agreed to a five-year contract extension for the second baseman. It includes a team option for a sixth year which would take Wong through his first two years of free agency. This is an extremely team friendly contract even though the financial details have not yet been released to the public.
Despite their unsuccessful attempts to lure free agents to their city this offseason, most players love playing in St. Louis. Long-time Cardinals Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter have all become team leaders and pillars of the community. They also were in attendance for Wong’s press conference, causing the 25-year-old to choke up as he thanked them for their presence.
Unlike most young players these days, for Wong it wasn’t about the money he may have been able to make in his first years of free agency.
“I fell in love with the city,” Wong said. “I want to do everything I can to help this city out. I didn’t want to see what I could go and do in free agency. I wanted to be a Cardinal. If there was any chance that I could do it, I told them, ‘Let’s try to get that done.'”
It’s a refreshing attitude for a young player today but it’s not one they are unused to in St. Louis, which is what made this past offseason and their inability to sign a big name free agent rather odd. The team and front office are certainly happy now.
Wong has already become the team’s first second baseman since the 1920’s to have back-to-back 10-homer seasons. Over the past two and a half seasons he’s hit .250/.303/.374. He’s also shown speed on the base paths and obvious power for a middle infielder. The Cardinals think he’s only begun to access his full potential as a player.
They are very likely correct in that assumption. Wong has two full big league seasons under his belt and he was drafted as the team’s number one overall pick in just 2011, meaning he moved swiftly through the minors. At just 25, he has a lot of room to grow and add to what many would already consider a successful career. A career, it appears, whose span will likely be spent in only in St. Louis.