cardinals logoIn notable news out of St. Louis, the Cardinals have locked up one of their young positional talents on a long-term deal that will keep Kolten Wong in red for five or six years. The terms of the deal aren’t yet out, but it’s a five-year agreement with a team option for a sixth year. Depending on whether the deal kicks in for the current year or next, it could buy out two or three of Wong’s free agent years, as he was set to be arbitration eligible for the first time next season.

The deal, of course, is relevant to Cubs fans insofar as it’s the Cardinals locking up a player for a certain period of time. I can’t really opine on the merits of the deal, itself, just yet, because the financial aspects aren’t out (UPDATE: See below), but I can say that it’s always hard to know how these things will shake out on the day they’re signed. For example, it wasn’t too long ago that the Cardinals signed Allen Craig to a deal that looked fantastic, and quickly fell apart (but not before they included him, together with Joe Kelly, in a trade to the Red Sox that netted them John Lackey on the cheap, because Cardinals).





As we’ve discussed before, these pre-arbitration extension for young position players are also extremely relevant to the Cubs in the coming years, as they obviously have a host of pre-arb talent that they may want to try and lock up. Wong, specifically, may or may not be a perfect comparable for any of the Cubs’ players, but because there are only so many of these types of deals for these types of players, they all become relevant.

Wong, 25, has a little over two years of service time, and was set to hit arbitration for the first time next year. Wong’s 2015 season was his best, and he hit .262/.321/.386 (96 wRC+) while playing slightly above average defense at second base. He was worth 2.3 WAR over his 150 games, according to FanGraphs. The various projection systems have him roughly duplicating his 2015 season in 2016.

That is all to say, Wong is not presently a star, and he doesn’t project to be at that level in the near future. But he is a good, solid, probably-slightly-better-than-average-overall player. I’m sure both he and the Cardinals are happy today, but it’s not quite clear to me that this is a needle-mover in either direction.

UPDATE: As expected, it’s a deal that makes sense for both sides:



Wong was still a year away from getting any kind of real payday (first time through arbitration), so now he’s guaranteed himself life-changing money. The Cardinals, for their part, get up to two free agent years for cheap – especially if Wong breaks out – and cost certainty in the interim. If you were wondering whether the deal would be a tidal-shifting market mover, it is not. If you were hoping it was going to be a terrible, hamstringing deal for the Cardinals, it is not.




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