ST. LOUIS — The Cardinals have declined second baseman Kolten Wong's $12.5 million club option for the 2021 season, making him a free agent. Wong will receive a $1 million buyout.
Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak announced the decision via video conference on Wednesday.
Mozeliak said he had reached out to Wong to keep the door open on a new contract, and cited the current financial uncertainties surrounding the club as a factor in not picking up the option.
“I told him that with some of the uncertainties, we're just not in a position to do that,” Mozeliak said. “We both agreed to keep the door open, and so as we progress in this, it’s something that we’re not ruling out for a future return.”
Mozeliak said Tommy Edman was the top candidate to replace Wong at second base should the two parties not agree to a new deal.
Wong, 30, was drafted No. 22 overall by the Cardinals in the 2011 MLB draft out of Hawaii, and has been with the franchise ever since.
In 852 regular season games with St. Louis, Wong is a .261 hitter with an OPS of .675. He had his best season in the Majors in 2019, where he hit .285 with 11 home runs, 25 doubles and stole 24 bases.
In the abbreviated 2020 season, Wong slashed .265/.350/.326/.675 with one home run and 16 RBI in 53 games.
Wong won his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award at second base in 2019, and is a finalist at the position again in 2020.