The Mariners acquire Wong from the Brewers in exchange for Winker and Toro.
The Mariners acquired Kolten Wong from the Brewers on Friday in exchange for outfielder Jesse Winker and infielder Abraham Toro, filling a much-needed left-handed spot in their lineup.
DETAILS OF THE TRADE
- 2B for the Mariners Kolten Wong
- Brewers are awarded: LF/DH INF Jesse Winker Toro, Abraham.
The Mariners will also receive $1.75 million to help offset Wong’s $10 million salary in 2023, when he will be a free agent. Winker is due $8.25 million in his final year before free agency, effectively a money and player swap for Seattle, while Toro is in his first year of arbitration as a Super Two player and won’t be a free agent until until 2026.
Wong has been a Mariners goal since the team came short of signing him as a free agency ahead of the 2021 season, when Seattle offered a two-year deal but Milwaukee offered a third-year club option, which was the difference at the time, according to sources. The Mariners had inquired about Wong’s availability at the Trade Deadline the previous two seasons, but the competing Brewers were uninterested in moving him.
However, with numerous arbitration-eligible players set to receive raises this offseason, many in the business anticipated that the team might be willing to move some of its higher-priced players for payroll relief, prospect capital, and/or depth. Toro, a switch-hitting infielder with glimpses of good performance, provides longevity for the Brewers’ squad, while Winker, coming off a terribly disappointing season, returns to a division where he flourished with the Reds while facing the motivation of a contract year with the Brewers.
The Brewers activated Wong’s option last month instead of paying him a $2 million buyout, opening the door for him to be traded, which sparked interest from clubs other than Seattle, according to sources.
Wong, 32, is coming off what was maybe his greatest season at the plate, hitting.251/.339/.430 (.769 OPS) with a career-high 15 homers, 24 doubles, four triples, 47 RBIs, and 116 wRC+ (league average is 100) while collecting 2.5 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.
Some of this was by purpose, with a more deliberate attempt to raise the ball higher. His line-drive and fly-ball rates were the best in his career the last two years (49.3% combined), but his ground-ball percentage was the lowest (43.7% for ’21-22). It’s possible that his OPS+ in each of the last two seasons – 110 in ’21 and 118 in ’22 – was the greatest of his career.
Wong is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner who is coming off a defensively bad year in which he was worth minus-9 outs above average (placing in the third percentile, per Statcast) and minus-1 defensive runs saved.
Some of that could be attributed to lower-body injuries he battled throughout the year, such as a right calf strain from a hit-by-pitch in June, which led to a stint on the injured list and persisted despite treatment and footwear experimentation. A full offseason of rest and a Spring Training with infield coaching guru Perry Hill, who has helped J.P. Crawford and Ty France among others, should be beneficial.
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