The St. Louis Cardinals declined to tender a contract for 2022 to infielder/outfielder José Rondón ahead of MLB's non-tender deadline on Tuesday night.
Rondón, 27, joined the Cardinals on a minor league deal last offseason and was called up to the majors in late May. He was the Cardinals' most frequently used pinch-hitter from the right side and their second-most used player in that role overall behind Matt Carpenter. In 43 pinch-hit plate appearances, he posted a .308/.349/.564 slash line with three homers, including a memorable solo blast in their playoff-clinching victory over the Brewers on Sept. 28. Overall, he hit .263/.322/.413 in 63 games while seeing action at first base, second base, third base, both corner outfield spots and designated hitter.
While Rondón was productive in 2021, the Cardinals have several young infielders coming up through the system who project to be major league ready in 2022. Top prospect Nolan Gorman can play both second and third base and is expected to debut at some point next season. Brendan Donovan played every position except pitcher, catcher and center field in the minors this year and was added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster earlier this month. Juan Yepez can play the corner infield and outfield spots while providing right-handed pop. With Rondón, a four-year major league veteran, out of minor league options, he didn't present the same flexibility to be shuttled up and down as younger players such as Donovan, Gorman and Yepez.
The Cardinals tendered contracts to all seven of their arbitration-eligible players: right-handers Jack Flaherty, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Hicks, Dakota Hudson and Alex Reyes and outfielders Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill.