The Brewers are in agreement with second baseman Kolten Wong on a two-year, $18 million deal with an $8 million club option for 2023. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported news of the deal on Wednesday:
Free-agent second baseman Kolten Wong in agreement with Brewers on two-year, $18M contract with a third-year club option, pending physical, source tells @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 3, 2021
If Brewers exercise Wong’s option, deal will grow to three years, $26M, source says. First with agreement: @JonMorosi.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 3, 2021
Wong, 30, has won the last two NL Gold Gloves at second base, and while he’s been inconsistent at the plate during his eight-year career with the Cardinals — including in 2020, when he hit .265/.350/.326 with one homer in 53 games — he has the potential to be an above-average offensive contributor, like he was in 2019, when he hit .285/.361/.423 with 11 homers and a career-high 24 steals. His greatest value is in the field at second base, though, where he’s the best fielder at the position in the league by a rather significant margin. His presence will be a refreshing change for the Brewers, who have utilized below-average defenders like Travis Shaw, Mike Moustakas, and Keston Hiura at second in recent seasons.
Wong has been stellar as a visitor at Miller Park, hitting .308/.373/.482 with six homers and 23 RBI — the most homers and RBI he’s had at any ballpark besides Busch Stadium — over 217 plate appearances in Milwaukee. His new club will hope he can carry that productivity into his tenure as a Brewer at what will now be known as American Family Field.
It’s unclear whether the left-handed hitting Wong, who has no significant platoon advantage, will form a platoon with right-handed hitting Hiura at second base, or whether this signing will cause the Brewers to move Hiura to first or third base. Hiura is defensively challenged overall and has dealt with elbow issues in the past, so a move to third would seem risky. But with Jedd Gyorko, the club’s best hitter in 2020, still a free agent, the Brewers’ top option at first base is currently Daniel Vogelbach, who is enough of a liability in the field that he’s generally been relegated to DH. If Milwaukee doesn’t bring Gyorko back, shifting Hiura to first may provide them with their best possible mix of offense and defense along the infield.