Paul DeJong and his rough offensive start with the Toronto Blue Jays
Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
At the 2023 trade deadline, the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off three separate deals with the St. Louis Cardinals, with the last transaction for the front office seeing shortstop Paul DeJong head North of the border while the Jays sent prospect pitcher Matt Svanson the other way.
As part of the deal, the Cardinals are footing half of DeJong’s remaining salary for the remainder of the year (roughly $1.475 million) while St. Louis will also cover half of his 2024 buyout (worth $1 million) should the Jays decide to not exercise his $12.5 million option for next year (he has another option for 2025 worth $15 million as well).
The timing of the deal made sense on a few different levels, as Jays shortstop Bo Bichette left the July 31st game with a knee injury and at the time, the extent of the ailment was unknown. While Bichette’s injury turned out to be less serious than what many had expected, the addition of DeJong helps solidify the infield considering Bichette’s replacement in Santiago Espinal has struggled to produce at the plate this season, owning a .600 OPS through 156 at-bats.
While DeJong’s hitting stats were not eye-popping prior to joining the Jays (.233 average with a .710 OPS), his highlight was his ability to left-handers well, posting a 123 wRC+ with a .266/.368/.453 slash line through 76 plate appearances with the Cardinals this season and something the Jays’ front office was looking to add at the deadline.
Paul DeJong struggling at the plate with the Blue Jays
So far with the Blue Jays, DeJong has struggled to generate anything offensively, with the righty-batter mustering just two hits through 31 at-bats while striking out 12 times (38.7%). Both hits have been singles and he has yet to generate a walk as well, with his slash line reading .065 across the board while posting a .130 OPS and a .105 BAbip. DeJong’s calling card these past few seasons has been his defensive ability at shortstop but the bat hasn’t struggled as mightily as he is right now for the Jays, with his last hit coming back on August 6th against the Boston Red Sox. Since then, DeJong is currently riding an 0 for 13 stretch and he did not collect a hit through the Cleveland Guardians series.
With Bichette out of the lineup, DeJong has filled in nicely on the defensive side of the ball with his sure glove, as the infielder has contributed to four double plays while adding 18 assists to a clean 1.000 fielding percentage, making the necessary plays with ease. On the year, he currently ranks in the 94th percentile in Outs Above Average (+7) and boasts a .991 fielding percentage with just three errors while also adding a +5 fielding run value. On the field, DeJong is getting things done on the left side of second base but the bat is what is bringing him down right now.
Looking ahead, the Blue Jays return to Toronto and will face the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series. It doesn’t appear that the Jays will be facing a former friend in Marcus Stroman but will have to contend against southpaw Justin Steele on Saturday, who owns an impressive 2.68 ERA on the season, while also facing Javier Assad (Friday) and Canadian-connected Jameson Taillon (Sunday), whose parents were both born in Canada.
Overall, the sample size is still a bit small at just 31 at-bats but things are trending in the wrong direction for DeJong, who will hopefully find a way to break out of his slump in front of a packed home crowd that will be in town to celebrate José Bautista’s induction into the Level of Excellence.
Recent articles from Tyson Shushkewich