The St. Louis Cardinals, while in Jupiter, Florida, inked Kolten Wong to a five-year, $25.5 million contract with a club option for the 2021 season, the team announced. The deal will buy out one winter of free agency and the arbitration years for second baseman.
"My whole plan was I wanted to be part of this team. I wanted to get engulfed with the community and just be part of St. Louis," Wong said. "Now, with this deal, I get to be part of the community."
Wong's contract includes a $12.5 million team option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout. The new deal will begin in 2016. Wong was set to be arbitration eligible after the 2016 season.
The 22nd overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Cardinals made his debut on August 16, 2013 and has been a productive second baseman. In his second full season, Wong was not demoted, did not share time with Mark Ellis and improved his overall play on the field. The major leagues have not yet seen the best of the youngster.
"I think I improved a lot last year," Wong said. "I wasn't as hard on myself last year, but compared to the way other people do it, I still was way too hard on myself.
"This year, I'm coming in with a different mindset. My whole goal this year is not to let highs get too high and not to let my lows get too low and really control myself as a professional. A lot of things happen.
"I've got to realize — I am realizing now — ... that slumps are going to happen."
Across three seasons in the majors, the 25-year-old has hit .250/.303/.374 with 23 home runs and 103 RBI in 295 games, which have seen him get 1,018 at-bats.
The Cardinals will look to continue to repeat the strategy of buying out arbitration years for young players with a huge upset, like Wong.
"He's a great example of our strategy to sign, develop and retain the best players available," Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said. "As a first-rounder, he's certainly lived up to his billing."