Brewers: Grading the Kolten Wong - Jesse Winker Trade With The Mariners
In the span of a few weeks, Matt Arnold has swung two big trades. Hunter Renfroe was the first big trade. He was traded for three young pitchers in which we gave a letter grade of a C+. More recently, Kolten Wong was traded for a rental outfielder/DH and a controllable infielder. How did Arnold do in this trade?
In return for Wong, the Brewers are getting one year of Jesse Winker. Winker is coming off a down 2022 season, but fans of the Brew Crew remember him the most during his time as a Red in which he was consistently dominating our pitchers. They also get four years of Abraham Toro. 2023 will be Toro's first year of arbitration in which he is projected to make $1.4MM.
At first glance, it appears that the Brewers are receiving a higher impact bat in Winker. He will likely will replace McCutchen as the designated hitter. They also receive a utility infielder who does have some pop in his bat and is a switch hitter.
It would appear that perhaps the Brewers got the better end of the stick on this trade, but let's take a further look at both Winker and Toro.
Winker is coming off a bad 2022 season. While there is no excuse for poor performance, he has undergone both knee and neck surgery this off-season. It is possible that this was a contributing factor during his one season of poor play in Seattle.
In general, health has been a bit of a concern for Winker. His 136 games played in 2022 was a career high. The next highest after that came in 2019 at 113. Despite this he has always posted a wRC+ above 100 including a phenomenal 147 wRC+ season in 2021.
Additionally, Fansided's Sodo Mojo site had some interesting comments on Winker's club house presence. In summary, he was described as lazy and became frustrated when he was not the designated hitter. The Brewers front office has taken some heat recently regarding their lack of concern for clubhouse chemistry, so this is not good news to year.
As for Toro, Matt Arnold had high praises for him. Arnold described him has a high energy player who will enhance the team's culture. As mentioned, the culture of the Brewers has been scrutinized as of late, so adding in a positive clubhouse guy is much needed.
In terms of performance, Toro had a rough go in 2022. He finished with a .185/.239/.324 slash line, did not make hard contact, and posted a dismal .189 BABIP. Overall, he did pull the ball and struggled mightily against the shift last year which is demonstrated by his .098 wOBA. It is possible that with the rule changes being implemented in 2023 that he sees an offensive improvement.
Letter grade for the Brewers return in the Kolten Wong trade: B+
Both Jesse Winker and Abraham Toro could be pivotal pieces for the Brewers next year. Hopefully Winker's 2022 season was an anomaly and he can return to All-Star form. Toro is not only is perceived as a great clubhouse guy, but he should benefit from the shift regulations next year. He likely will replace Jace Peterson as the super utility player.
The fact that the Brewers potentially gained a more impactful bat than the Mariners plus a controllable infielder makes this trade a success. It does not receive an A letter grade due to the fact that Winker is coming off a down season and Toro has not overly impressed at the major league level yet.
So, the trade gets a B+ from me. The ceiling of this trade could reach an A+ due to Winker's potential, but we will have to wait and see how that plays out.