MLB trade grades: Mariners take another huge swing with Kolten Wong, Brewers

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Seattle Mariners are matching the Houston Astros round for round so far this offseason, trading for Milwaukee Brewers infielder Kolten Wong.

Kolten Wong is coming off his best offensive season, as he recorded career highs in home runs and OPS+. It wasn’t a surprising move for a Brewers team that prioritizes contract flexibility, as Wong is entering the final year of his deal.

Seattle is desperate to keep up in a crowded AL West, and Wong offered them the best chance to add real power to the lineup at a position of weakness. Adam Frazier, their previous second baseman, is a free agent this offseason. Wong will likely slide right into that spot.

Winker, a former All-Star, is coming off a down season but is a solid rebound candidate in a new home. He’s signed through the 2024 season.

Kolten Wong trade details

The Kolten Wong trade was as follows, per reports:

All three players in this deal are major-league caliber. Toro has the positional flexibility to play both second and third base. He is under team control for another four seasons.

Winker made the All-Star team with the Cincinnati Reds in 2021, but his experience in Seattle wasn’t quite as kind. Winker slashed .219/.344/.344 with just 14 home runs — a rather noticeable decrease in the power department after reaching the 24-home run mark in 2021.

Who won the Kolten Wong trade, Mariners or Brewers?

Seattle Mariners grade: B. From Seattle’s perspective, this is a swing for the fences. The M’s acquired Teoscar Hernandez from the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the offseason, which made a player like Jesse Winker more expendable. Abraham Toro is more of a throw-in, but he once showed promise and has plenty of time left on his contract. It’s a risk sending him to Milwaukee, an organization that could certainly take advantage of his strengths.

Wong is a solid pickup, and one that will pay immediate dividends. The Mariners are better today than they were yesterday. The question remains, though: Is it worth going all-in if players like Hernandez and Wong just leave next offseason?

Milwaukee Brewers grade: C+. The Brewers front office has done just enough to contend in the NL Central, but by shedding core pieces like Josh Hader and now Kolten Wong, it has to leave fans wondering if a retooling or complete rebuild is around the corner.

Milwaukee is too talented to be on the losing end of these trades. What they lose in Wong they do gain in flexibility, however. This trade could look much better in a year, especially if Wong leaves in free agency and Winker rebounds to his old self against familiar competition in the NL Central.

The Brewers get a C+, if only because of the wait and see approach. David Stearns admitted in no uncertain terms that trading Hader led to some locker room turmoil. While Stearns is still an advisor with the organization, could a Wong deal have the same result?

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