This is not the move anyone was expecting. In fact, there wasn’t even a single connection with the Brewers made all winter until the signing happened.
Silence, for months. Then, boom.
For the Brewers, the addition of Kolten Wong gives them another strong option at the top of the lineup and a consistent player and on-base presence ahead of Christian Yelich. Wong has had a .356 OBP over the last four seasons with a .273 batting average.
Lorenzo Cain is the incumbent leadoff hitter, but coming off a down 2019 season and then opting out early in 2020, it’s unknown at this point if Cain would still be the best option for that role. Wong can be another option.
Wong, 30, is a consistently solid player, he’s not a world-beater offensively, but he doesn’t have to be, and the contract he signed is actually pretty good considering the Cardinals declined his $12.5MM option for the 2021 season and the Brewers were able to sign him to a $9MM average annual value.
The two guaranteed years with a third year club option is similar to the contract Avisail Garcia signed last offseason, which was for two years and $20MM. Garcia’s deal was backloaded and at the moment it remains to be seen what the details of Wong’s contract will look like but odds are it will be backloaded as well.
The Brewers add a Gold Glove second baseman in Kolten Wong to shore up their middle infield defense.
It’s been pretty clear to everyone that Keston Hiura was a below average defensive second baseman. His bat was good, and as long as he hit around .300 like he did in 2019 and all throughout the minors, you could live with it. He had a down year in 2020 and now the Brewers are looking to make a change at the position.
Hiura is now likely to move to first base as Wong is a back-to-back Gold Glove winner at the keystone position. We’ll see how that project works out in spring training, but the defense up the middle will be strong with Wong, Arcia/Urias, and Cain.
The defensive pieces in the corners will shake out where they may, but the bottom line is the Milwaukee Brewers got better today and made themselves a better team. Wong is a competitor, that earns high marks for his character, work ethic, and clubhouse leadership.
There still is the issue of third base, and unless they plan to go with the powerless platoon of Daniel Robertson and Luis Urias, they need to make an addition there.