The Matt Arnold era as General Manager is here, and it's almost like David Stearns never left. On Friday, the Brewers traded second baseman Kolten Wong to the Seattle Mariners for infielder Abraham Toro and known Brewer-killer Jesse Winker.
After trading Hunter Renfroe to the Los Angeles Angels for pitching depth and prospects, it appears the Brewers already have his replacement with Jesse Winker. You should still expect several high-level outfield prospects on the roster, but this adds another bat that the team needed going into the 2023 season.
Abraham Toro also helps fill the new hole in the infield. Losing Kolten Wong is tough, but you now have Toro, Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez, Luis Urias, Brice Turang, Keston Hiura and Mike Brosseau as your infield depth.
The Brewers lose another fan and team favorite in Kolten Wong but gain a player who always hits well at American Family Field in Jesse Winker and another infielder with years of control in Abraham Toro.
Winker will be a free agent after the 2023, just like Wong. Toro, on the other hand, has four years of control remaining. And we know how much Stearns and Arnold love years of control. The Mariners have been rumored to Wong for the past few weeks.
Seattle is all in the next few seasons, much like the Brewers should be with Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff in the rotation and two years from free agency. So, the Mariners get a solid second baseman in the lineup while the Brewers get an Andrew McCutchen replacement with upside but seven years younger. They also get Toro during what might be the peak of his career.
Winker was due for a change of scenery. According to our Mariners site over at SoDo Mojo, Winker was reportedly at odds with his teammates, thus it was probably time for a new team. Luckily, he happens to absolutely mash at American Family FIeld.
According to FanGraphs, Winker has a career .344/.440/.591 slash line and 171 wRC+ in Milwaukee. Winker was also an All-Star in 2021. A new team and going to a place you hit well can solve a lot of issues.
Winker didn't have an amazing year in left field defensively last season, so you can expect him to probably split the designated hitter spot with Christian Yelich. The active outfield now stands at Yelich, Winker, Tyrone Taylor, Blake Perkins, Garrett Mitchell and Esteury Ruiz. Sal Frelick shouldn't be too far behind depending on any other trades made this offseason.
Toro, meanwhile, was a Houston Astro before being traded to the Mariners in 2021. He has shown some signs of power, but currently only has 26 home runs and a career batting average of .206. He will be entering his fifth season in 2023 so if he is going to turn around his hitting, it needs to be now. Milwaukee needs hitters, and a .206 batting average isn't going to get the job done.
By all accounts, it looks like the move was to add an infielder with upside and years of control, the type of move you used to see David Stearns make often. Toro should see some time at second and third base and split time with Luis Urias and Brice Turang. If Brewers fans were looking for a big-time infield signing, they shouldn't hold their breath. With enough pieces in the infield currently, they might not add another else unless there is another trade.
It is sad to see Kolten Wong be traded, though. He was a great player for the organization and solidified the second base position in the two years he was here. Who knows, maybe the Mariners and Brewers can meet in the World Series in 2023.