The Dodgers have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran second baseman Kolten Wong, per their transaction log at MLB.com. The PSI Sports Management client has been assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Wong, 32, signed a two-year, $18MM contract with the Brewers in the 2020-21 offseason. Milwaukee picked up a $10MM club option for the 2023 season last November but ultimately traded the second baseman to Seattle in a deal that netted Jesse Winker and Abraham Toro. The deal hasn’t panned out for either party; Wong struggled to the point that he was released earlier this month, while Winker has spent considerable time on the injured list and struggled to a .199/.320/.247 output when healthy. Toro has hit well in 21 plate appearances for the Brewers but has spent the majority of the season in Triple-A Nashville.
The Mariners acquired Wong in hopes of adding a productive left-handed bat who could hold down the fort at second base for at least one season. Wong had perhaps the two best offensive seasons of his career with the Brewers in 2021-22, batting a combined .262/.337/.439 with 29 home runs, 56 doubles, six triples and 29 steals in 989 trips to the plate.
Wong, a two-time Gold Glove winner who was once regarded as the sport’s premier defender at his position, had an uncharacteristically shaky season on the defensive end of the game in 2022, however. Last year’s 17 errors were more than he’d committed in the three prior seasons combined and tied a career-worst mark from 2015 — his second big league season. Statcast pegged him at 10 outs below average with the glove.
While Wong scaled back the errors in Seattle, he still drew below-average grades defensively, and the offensive gains he’d made in Milwaukee evaporated. The Mariners gave him a surprising amount of leash, but in 216 plate appearances he’s been one of the game’s least effective hitters in 2023, batting .165/.241/.227 with a career-worst 21.7% strikeout rate and a career-low 85.8 mph average exit velocity.
The Mariners will remain on the hook for the rest of Wong’s $10MM salary, so the Dodgers would only owe him the prorated league minimum for any time he spends on the Major League roster. With a resurgent performance from Jason Heyward in right field and with David Peralta bouncing back from a dismal start to the season in left, Los Angeles has been able to move Mookie Betts to the infield to handle the bulk of the workload at second base since struggling top prospect Miguel Vargas was optioned. Between Betts, Vargas, Amed Rosario, Chris Taylor and prospect Michael Busch, the Dodgers are hardly lacking for depth at second base. Still, Wong will give them some extra insurance in the event of injuries. And, if the Dodgers can get him back on track, he’s signed with the organization early enough (i.e. prior to Sept. 1) to be eligible for postseason play — should they succeed in restoring him to prior form.