Milwaukee Brewers, MLB

Inside the Clubhouse: Kolten Wong trades, pitching markets and contract details

This week on Inside the Clubhouse, we’re looking at the trade market for Kolten Wong, the market for starting and relief pitchers and breaking down the details on newly signed contracts.

The Milwaukee Brewers are shopping second baseman Kolten Wong and have been in discussions with several teams, according to sources familiar with the team’s plans. But there are hurdles that complicate a potential deal.

Wong, 32, is scheduled to earn $10 million in 2023 before becoming a free agent. That number is higher than some teams are willing to pay and limited the potential suitors for a Gold Glove-caliber defender.

“I love him,” one evaluator said. “He’s an explosive athlete and getting better offensively. He has sneaky power.”

Who could trade for Kolten Wong?

Among the teams that make sense for Wong include the Seattle Mariners, who are searching for a second baseman after acquiring Teoscar Hernandez. Wong, however, is one of many options that they are considering. Still, he’s an intriguing target — he hit .251/.339/.430 with 15 home runs and 17 steals — and is coming off a second consecutive season in which his power has improved.

But Wong, typically one of baseball’s premier defensive second basemen, is coming off arguably his worst defensive season. He committed 17 errors, which is more than he committed in the previous three seasons combined.

Tigers’ deal with Matthew Boyd shows how lucrative pitching market is

There is no such thing as a bad one-year contract.

But Matthew Boyd’s one-year, $10 million contract with the Detroit Tigers underscores how lucrative the starting pitching market is. Boyd, 31, made $6.5 million with the Tigers in 2021. He was non-tendered, signed with the San Francisco Giants, and pitched only 13.1 innings the entire 2022 season after being traded to the Seattle Mariners.

So why did the Tigers give him a $3.5 million raise after such a small sample size?

Look at Mike Clevinger’s one-year, $12 million contract with the Chicago White Sox. Rival agents and executives believe it set a strong benchmark for free-agent starting pitcher contracts and Boyd was a beneficiary of that. But Boyd has long had fans among analytics teams and Scott Harris, the Tigers’ president of baseball operations, was a big part of the Giants’ recruitment of Boyd last winter when he was San Francisco’s general manager.

For some teams, that deal was too rich. But Boyd has upside and as Eno Sarris of The Athletic noted, the left-hander made changes to his changeup last season that he could utilize more often in a starting capacity. He is also a candidate to significantly increase the usage of his changeup, which he made tweaks to throughout the 2022 season.

Breakdowns of newly signed free-agent contracts

Via major-league sources:

Jose Abreu’s three-year, $58.5 million contract with the Houston Astros.

2023: $19.5 million
2024: $19.5 million
2025: $19.5 million

Performance bonuses for MVP: $200,000 for first; $175,000 for second; $150,000 for third; $125,000 for fourth; $100,000 for fifth. $100,000 for World Series/MVP.

Carlos Santana’s one-year, $6.725 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

2023: $6.725 million.

Performance bonuses for MVP: $250,000 for first; $150,000 for second; $100,000 for third.

Shelby Miller’s one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

2023: $1.5 million.

Performance bonuses for relief appearances: $25,000 for 50 relief appearances, 55 relief appearances. $50,000 for 60 relief appearances.

Relief market heating up

The relief pitching market is active, according to major-league sources, and one team that has been particularly involved has been the Arizona Diamondbacks. It remains unclear who they are targeting, but the team is in need of young, right-handed options with upside in the bullpen.

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