Jump to content
Brewer Fanatic
  • Brewers Pick Up 2023 Option for Kolten Wong

    Craig Mandli

    General Manager Matt Arnold made the first big solo team personnel decision of his Brewers career late Tuesday afternoon, as the Brewers announced that they would be picking up their club option on veteran second baseman Kolten Wong. The option year will pay him a $10 million salary in 2023 and had the Brewers declined the option, Wong would have been owed a $2 million buyout.

    Image courtesy of © Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

    Brewers Video


    After a 2021 season that saw Kolten Wong play as advertised (a .783 OPS combined with the rock-solid defense he'd come to be known for in his eight seasons as a Cardinal), Wong followed it up with a 2022 season that, while still solid on the surface, mirrored the team in perhaps failing to live up to expectations. Despite a still-solid .770 OPS and a career-high of 15 HRs, Wong took an unexplainable but obvious step back with his glove. His 17 errors tied a career-high, while advanced metrics weren’t kind, with Wong seeing a steep decline with -1 Defensive Runs Saved, -4.7 Ultimate Zone Rating, and -9 Outs Above Average – all far off career norms. Toward the end of the season, Wong acknowledged that his down year defensively, combined with his price tag and the fact that the Brewers had a near MLB-ready replacement in Brice Turang, may have meant he'd be moving on.

    “Defensively, it just wasn’t my year,” Wong told Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in October. “I’ve been a free agent one time already, and it’s not the most enjoyable thing. If I got to go through it again, it is what it is. It will be interesting to see where I’d end up landing. Milwaukee was a choice that I kind of had in mind going into free agency as a high pick for me. This next one, I just kind of want to keep an open mind and see how it goes.”  

    Wong's bat has never been the issue. Since signing with the Brewers, he has a cumulative batting line of .262/.337/.439 for a wRC+ of 113. The extra power from the diminutive lefty swinger has been a welcome surprise, as Wong hit 14 homers in 2021 before his follow-up effort of 15 in 2022. He’s always been a solid, opportunistic baserunner, swiping 29 bases over the past two years, including 17 in 2022.

    Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel spoke to Wong, who said that he was “stoked” about the decision before detailing that his legs weren’t 100% healthy in 2022, contributing to his defensive shortcomings.

    Wong also pointed out that with defensive shifts no longer allowed; he had extra motivation to up his defensive game to its previously high levels. In a conference call with reporters Tuesday evening, Arnold indicated that the decision to pick up Wong's option was not as tricky as reporters and other insiders made it out to be.

    Of course, while Wong is officially Brewers' property, that doesn't necessarily mean he is 100% in the plans for 2023. There are several scenarios still in play:

    Option A: The status quo. This indicates that Wong is penciled in as the starter at 2B for the 2023 Brewers and is in the middle of the lineup. While Wong proved to be a competent lead-off hitter in 2021, that is seemingly Christian Yelich's spot moving forward unless Yelich suddenly unlocks his powerful 2018-19 MVP self. While this may be the "boring" option, Wong was far from the team's biggest issue offensively in 2022. His steady presence and bat would likely be appreciated, especially if the team attempted to break in several young, unproven bats.

    Option B: A 2023 mid-season or deadline trade. While picking up Wong's option would seemingly indicate that the Brewers intend to compete again in 2023, playoff contention is far from assured. Wong is the ideal type of steady, veteran bat with loads of postseason experience that multiple World Series hopefuls would likely be happy to pick up for the stretch run. While the return probably wouldn't be huge, the Brewers would likely be able to pick up a piece or two to strengthen the farm system.

    Option C: An 2022-23 off-season trade. Would the Brewers have picked up Wong's option with the intent to trade him? Well, if the value is there, maybe. The aforementioned Turang is probably ready for an MLB role, and while he's a SS by trade, he saw time at 2B, 3B, and even in CF this season in Nashville. This would indicate that he is at least being looked at as a potential replacement for valuable utility player Jace Peterson, a free agent. And while Luis Urias saw most of his time at 3B in 2022, many insiders have long seen him as a future 2B. If the Brewers make a splash in free agency or the trade market this offseason, 3B is an ideal target, which would kick Urias to a different spot.

    In his closing remarks this season, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio indicated that the Brewers would be actively building and turning over the roster this offseason. So buckle up. But regardless of which option the Brewers take, we know that Kolten Wong's steady hand will remain Brewer property heading into the start of free agency this week. 


    Think you could write a story like this? Brewer Fanatic wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.

    — Latest Brewers coverage from our writers
    — Recent Brewers discussion in our forums
    — Follow Brewer Fanatic via Twitter, Facebook or email


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...