Brewers Club Option Decisions (2)
Kolten Wong, Brad Boxberger
What are the Brewers to do with Kolten Wong? He struggled both offensively and defensively in the first half of the year, but improved during the second half. He ended with a respectable slash line of .251/.339/.430 with a career-high 15 homers and a career-high 116 wRC+.
That’s really not a bad season at all, in fact it’s a pretty good season. You would think that would be an obvious decision to exercise his club option, right? Not necessarily.
Wong’s club option carries a $10MM salary for 2023, with a buyout of $2MM if the Brewers decline it. So, it’s essentially an $8MM decision for Milwaukee. Do they want to pay Wong, who just turned 32 years old, for another season at a reasonable, but still somewhat high salary? Or will they let him walk, pay the buyout, and install Brice Turang, who is just 22 years old, at second base and would make just $700k next season?
The Brewers would save $7.3MM by switching from Wong to Turang at second. Turang’s a shortstop by trade, but with Willy Adames in the fold, second base is his best path to big league playing time. He spent all of the 2022 season in Triple-A Nashville and posted a very inspiring .286/.360/.412 slash line with 24 doubles, 13 homers, and 34 stolen bases.
With the presence of Turang, I would be mildly surprised to see the Brewers pick up Wong’s option for 2023.
The other option decision they have is Brad Boxberger. He has a $3MM club option for 2023 with a $750,000 buyout if they decline. Boxberger was solid once again in 2022, finishing the year with a 2.95 ERA in 64 innings. His numbers were similar to his successful 2021 campaign. Can he keep it up for a third consecutive year in Milwaukee?
Relievers are volatile year-to-year, but if the Brewers think he can maintain some success, his $3MM is not unreasonable. A slight concern was his average fastball velocity dipping from 93.5 MPH in 2021 to 92.8 MPH in 2022. Boxberger will turn 35 next year and velocity dips for relievers into their mid-thirties are causes for concern when it comes to their performance.