Back on July 31st in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays’ star shortstop Bo Bichette injured his right knee while running as he rounded first base. With the full extent of his injury somewhat unknown and the trade deadline taking place on August 1st, the Jays went out to acquire Paul DeJong from the St. Louis Cardinals as insurance, in the event Bichette ends up being out for a longer period of time than expected.
A seven-year MLB veteran that was a former All-Star and Rookie of the Year finalist as well, DeJong has been known for his power along with his steady defence in the past. In particular, in his standout year back in 2019, DeJong pounded out 30 home runs and 78 RBI while scoring 97 runs, along with tallying 24 DRS in the defensive side of things. However, he has struggled quite a bit in the past few years ever since the COVID-shortened 2020 season, but his occasional power production has still been evident. As a result, he should have been more than adequate in providing the Jays with offensive and defensive stability while Bichette is on the sidelines.
However, 11 games into his tenure with his new team, DeJong has definitely been a huge disappointment. DeJong has gone 3-for-39 for an .077 batting average, along with just one run scored, one RBI, zero walks and 14 strikeouts. Even more worrisome is the fact that he appears overmatched in his plate appearances, as seen from the sequence in the sample clip below.
With that being said, did the Blue Jays still make the right call to obtain his services at the deadline? Looking back now, they probably would have been better off if they utilized an internal option instead as a temporary stop-gap solution.
If the Jays were just looking for someone to maintain defensive stability while Bichette was out, they already had one in Santiago Espinal. At least since the All-Star break, Espinal has shown some offensive output as well, as he has hit .255 with seven runs scored, one home run, seven RBI, three walks and seven strikeouts in 47 at-bats, which is already better production than what DeJong has provided. If the Jays were looking for some offensive production, perhaps they should have promoted someone like Addison Barger, the Jays fifth-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, from the Buffalo Bisons. After all, he has been hot since mid-July, hitting .296 with a .989 OPS, along with 20 runs scored, nine doubles, five home runs, 13 RBI, 19 walks and only 16 strikeouts prior to Sunday's game.
On the positive side of things, at least it only cost the Jays minor league pitching prospect Matt Svanson, who wasn’t even among the Jays’ top 30 prospects in the organization. So in reality, it felt like the Jays had a free trial of DeJong at shortstop to see if he could get the job done.
Nevertheless, with the Jays’ offence struggling mightily for much of this past week, with DeJong leading the charge in those struggles, something must be done soon to rectify the issue. Perhaps it is time to give someone else a run at shortstop while DeJong is rested to allow him to regroup and refocus. That way, the Jays may get the necessary jolt to reignite the offence and at the same time, have DeJong work out his approach at the plate so that he could be more serviceable down the stretch.