What will the Blue Jays' lineup look like with Paul DeJong?

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

The Blue Jays have made a significant deal, by agreeing a trade with the Cardinals for the second time in 24 hours. This time around, they've acquired Paul DeJong.

Under any other circumstances, the addition of DeJong would be cause for celebration. After all, we're talking about a versatile and experienced player, who can provide veteran leadership and excellent depth.

Unfortunately, the 2019 All-Star has likely been brought in to take over as the starting shortstop. There's been no official update at the time of writing, but this all points towards Bo Bichette's injury being a serious one.

A tough comparison when it comes to offence

It's unfair to compare almost anyone to Bichette, when it comes to hitting. He easily leads the AL in this category and was only five behind the overall Major League leader following Sunday's slate of games.

At the same time however, the dropoff from Bichette to DeJong is considerably. We're talking about essentially a .100 dip in batting average and around 50 percent less RBI.

In fairness to DeJong, he is having somewhat of a bounce-back year offensively. It's also worth noting he has done well, after beginning this season on the injured list with a lingering back issue.

More positive on defence

However, where the 29-year-old will benefit the Blue Jays more, is with his defence. And even though this was not a pressing need for them, he is at least an upgrade over Bichette in this respect.

DeJong has a fielding percentage of .990 this year, which is on course to be a career high. (Bichette is .975.) He also has just three errors this year, compared to eight by Bichette.

As per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, DeJong's statcast outs above average ranks 21st among qualified shortstops since 2021. He also ranks 15th at the position over the same time period in Defensive Runs Saved, to show he is consistent defensively.

Again though, this only makes up to a certain extent for the drop in offensive quality from Bichette. The 2015 fourth round draft pick figures to be a solid bat at most.

Straightforward fit into the lineup

In terms of how DeJong fits into the lineup, it seems straightforward enough. Again assuming Bicette's injury is serious, he will take over as the everyday starter at shortstop in a lineup as follows:

  • RF George Springer
  • 2B Whit Merrifield
  • DH Brandon Belt
  • 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
  • 3B Matt Chapman
  • SS Paul DeJong
  • LF Daulton Varsho
  • C Alejandro Kirk
  • CF Kevin Kiermaier

If Bichette does happen to return sooner than later, the Orlando, Florida native can also play at second base. Although in terms of his experience at this position, he's more likely to provide depth as opposed to being a regular in the lineup.

One final factor to consider is DeJong's contract, which is a base salary of $9 million US for this season. There are club options for the next two years, with buyout of $2 million and $1 million respectively.

In other words, the Blue Jays are in control of whether or not the right-handed bat is worth keeping around after this year. Fans will be hoping he plays well enough in the (assumed) absence of Bichette, to give the front office at least a valid reason to consider bringing him back.