As the Brewers get closer to the 2022 Trade Deadline, they’re set to be clear buyers, which means prospect may be on the move as trade bait. One of the top such prospects is shortstop Brice Turang.
The Crew’s first round pick in 2018, Turang has progressed well through the minor league system and has made it to Triple-A at a young age. Still just 22 years old, Turang is on the cusp of the big leagues and has shown nothing to make the Brewers believe that he isn’t capable of being the quality player he’s expected to be.
However, there’s one slight issue for Turang. He’s a shortstop by trade, and the Brewers already have a pretty good one in Willy Adames. Adames is under team control through 2024. Turang is going to be ready and deserving of a call up well before that job potentially opens up long-term.
So, as the Trade Deadline approaches, could the Brewers view Turang as expendable and trade him to make an upgrade at a different position on the big league roster? After all, he’s a highly rated prospect that would help bring back a lot in return.
Should the Milwaukee Brewers be willing to make shortstop prospect Brice Turang trade bait this summer, or will he stay and be a contributor long-term?
The answer to these questions about what the Brewers should do with Turang really rests with what their feeling is on Kolten Wong, not Willy Adames.
While Turang is a shortstop and can handle the position defensively just fine, he can also play second base and that may be his nearest path to long-term playing time in Milwaukee.
Wong has a $10MM club option for 2023 as he’s in the final year of his two-year guaranteed contract he signed with Milwaukee. After the 2021 season, it seemed like an easy call to pick up Wong’s option. Now, as we’re two and a half months into the 2022 season, that decision doesn’t seem as easy.
Wong’s defense has regressed a little this year, with him committing seven errors already. Last season, he made just two errors. On top of that, Wong’s bat has also regressed. He’s hitting just .228/.321/.389 on the season. His OPS has dropped 74 points from what it was last year.
Part of that could attributed to poor luck, as Wong’s .250 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in 2022 is far below his .305 BABIP last season and .294 BABIP for his career. Still, the lessened production at the plate is concerning.
With some regression on both sides of the ball, would the Brewers be willing to pay Wong $10MM next year as well, especially with a number of other key players needing raises?
The answer to that question will determine the answer to Brice Turang’s future.
So what should the Brewers do with Brice Turang?
Brice Turang is close to big league ready and is a highly rated prospect. If David Stearns wants to make a splash at the deadline to improve this team now, it makes sense to trade Turang instead of a guy like Ethan Small or Joey Wiemer because those guys aren’t blocked at their primary position like Turang is.
However due to the decline in Wong’s play this season, I’d be inclined to keep Turang as a contributor to this Brewers team and plan on him being ready to take over at second base in 2023.
The payroll is continuing to expand as the Crew’s young core goes through arbitration and receive raises for their play. In order to keep the payroll healthy and flexible, Milwaukee needs young players like Turang to come up and produce on pre-arbitration salaries. The money saved by going from Wong to Turang next season could go to paying for raises for other players, or signing some other free agent, or even signing some current players to long-term extensions.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he was used as trade bait this summer, but the Brewers should opt to keep Turang around with eyes on him being a contributor in the near future.
Again, the answer to what the Brewers will do with Turang is going to be dependent on how the front office is feeling about Kolten Wong’s contract option.