After being released by the Toronto Blue Jays on August 21st, Paul DeJong was almost immediately picked up by the San Francisco Giants. In his debut with the Giants on August 23rd, DeJong went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBI, including driving in the winning run in the top of the 10th inning. In just one game with the Giants, he matched his hit total in his entire time with the Blue Jays and is really making it look like they might've cut bait too early. But just because DeJong's off to a hot start in San Francisco doesn't mean the Jays made the wrong decision.
In DeJong's 18 games with the Blue Jays, he was 3-for-44 with 18 strikeouts, no walk, no extra-base hits, and a -62 OPS+, meaning he was 162 percent worse than the league-average hitter during his time with the team. Despite this, releasing DeJong was far from a no-brainer. They had just given up a prospect for him at the deadline, and in the past, he'd been a really solid contributor to some good teams in St Louis, with a 96 OPS+ in just under 700 games throughout his career. Santiago Espinal's struggles this season had also made it seem like he would be a candidate to be sent down since he currently has two minor league options remaining, but despite this, they still elected to drop DeJong.
It's obviously possible that if the Blue Jays had sent down Espinal, DeJong could have bounced back and become a contributor down the stretch and they could've gotten value out of their deadline acquisition, but at this point, it was all about cutting their losses. DeJong was brought in to fill Bo Bichette's absence at shortstop in the short-term, and hopefully provide a solid utility infielder when Bo returned. But by the time Bichette was about to come back, every time DeJong stepped up to the plate it just felt like a wasted at-bat. The Blue Jays have been struggling to score runs all season, and as they sit right in the thick of the wild card race with just over a month left in the season, they simply can't afford to be throwing away plate appearances.
This decision is made even more defensible when you look at the potential upside for DeJong. With Bichette back, DeJong would have been relegated to a bench spot behind a player who usually plays every single day. He also doesn't have a ton of positional versatility, having only played one position other than shortstop in his career, with 21 games at second base, and with the emergence of Davis Schneider, it's unlikely he would see much playing time there when Whit Merrifield isn't starting. The reality is that with the Blue Jays, DeJong had a very limited ceiling and would have struggled to find playing time down the stretch. Maybe at the end of the season, we'll be looking at this decision differently, but for now, the Jays need to be doing everything they can to win games, and during his time with the team, DeJong just couldn't get it done.