- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Making a long-term commitment to Kolten Wong as their second baseman, the St. Louis Cardinals agreed Wednesday to a $25.5 million, five-year contract with the 25-year-old.

Wong gets $1.25 million this year, $2.5 million in 2017, $4 million in 2018, $6.5 million in 2019 and $10.25 million in 2020. St. Louis has a $12.5 million option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout.

He would have been eligible for salary arbitration next winter and for free agency after the 2019 World Series.

“Now that I kind of have some kind of security, I understand that I can go out there and do different things and not worry about basically trying to play a good game every single game of spring training,” Wong said. “I can go in there and focus on certain parts of my game that I really want to work on and really hone in on those things.”

Wong played in 32 games for the 2013 Cardinals, who reached the World Series. He stole 20 bases in 2014, when he hit .249 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs, finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting. He hit three homers that postseason, including a tiebreaking seventh-inning drive against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the NL Division Series.

“Kolten has already been a key part of several high-profile moments during his young career, and we look forward to his continued growth and success as a member of this organization,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement.

He hit .262 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs last year while playing in a career-high 150 games, but his stolen bases dropped to 15.

“I’m going to try to steal a lot more bases in spring training just to get a feel for how much I can test the limits just get out there and push it and see what happens,” Wong said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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