In December, the Brewers and Mariners executed a trade that sent Kolten Wong to Seattle and Jesse Winker plus Abraham Toro to Milwaukee. By the time the deal was done, Winker was already recovering from multiple surgeries. One surgery was to address his knee and the other his neck. Winker is now reportedly "feeling strong and healthy".
Of the two surgeries, the more concerning surgery was to his neck. Prior to undergoing a disc replacement procedure, Winker said he was experiencing symptoms such as trouble looking to his right, trouble looking upward, weakness in his arms, diminished grip strength, and tingles running down his arms. Thankfully he says those symptoms are now gone.
"“I was happy I did it, because it's crazy how it all worked out. You kind of wake up from it, and you can already feel a difference. I'm feeling strong, I'm feeling healthy. It's the first time I can comfortably say that in a minute. So, I'm thrilled about that.”"- Jesse Winker
What can we expect from Jesse Winker in 2023? Will he be ready for opening day?
Over the last month, Winker has been performing baseball activities that does include hitting. At this time his Cactus League debut is not known and he is deferring to the Brewers medical staff to determine the best time for that as well as his readiness for Opening Day.
Once Winker is ready, Brewers manager Craig Counsell has indicated that he sees him serving primarily as the designated hitter to begin. The eventual goal is to have him progress into more regular playing time in the outfield.
The hope for Winker in 2023 is that he has a bounce back season. He's in the final year of his contract and he had an uncharacteristically down season with the Mariners in 2022. At 29 years old, and turning 30 later this summer, a strong season could help Winker land a multi-year contract this upcoming offseason.
Throughout his career, the numbers are on Winkers side for a bounce back season. He has played 32 career games at American Family Field Winker and has posted a 344/.440/.591 with a 1.032 OPS. He also has generally performed exceptionally well against National League Central teams.
Winker figures to play a key role for the Brewers this season and will likely hit somewhere in the middle of the lineup. It sounds like Winker is healthy again, so hopefully he is able to put together a solid season in Milwaukee.