“Look, you have these conversations and then you never really know if you’re a call away or if it’s never going to happen again. That’s just the nature of the beast,” said Arnold. “These things sometimes happen very quickly, and sometimes the foundation is laid over many months. These were conversations that we had off and on for a while.
“As we searched the market, we were able to close a deal today.”
With top infield prospect Brice Turang just finishing a strong season with Class AAA Nashville, the team is comfortable turning the page on 32-year-old Wong and can hand over the reins at second base to the 23-year-old who is yet to make his major league debut.
Toro and Luis Urías are also capable of playing the position.
“If you talk about our team on December 2, it’s just a snapshot,” Arnold said. “A lot of players in our mix have a lot of flexibility, and you know we value that as a franchise. It’s something we feel really good about having depth all over the infield.”
Wong is enjoying the best two offensive seasons of his career since signing with Milwaukee for the 2021 campaign and hitting a career-high 15 home runs in 2022 with a three-home run game at Cincinnati in late September, an individual high.
Wong hit .262 with 29 home runs and 97 RBI with a .776 OPS in 250 games with the Brewers.
But the two-time Gold Glove winner also qualified as one of the worst defensive second basemen in baseball last season by accounting for minus nine outs above average, while tying a career high by committing 17 errors.
In acquiring the southpaw Winker, 29, Milwaukee adds an outfielder capable of playing at least the corner kicks and who is two seasons away from his only all-star nomination with the Cincinnati Reds.
He also adds another option as a designated hitter.
Winker, who will earn $8.25 million in 2023 in the second year of a two-year deal, is coming off a poor season in which he hit .219 with 14 home runs and 53 runs batted in while compiling a career OPS of .688 -high 136 games.
“It’s a kind of no-excuse competition and I went there and played and didn’t play well, and it’s as simple as that,” said Winker when asked about his drop-off. “I look forward to righting the ship and playing good and healthy baseball again.”
And in the end it was Winker’s health that betrayed him. As a result, he missed Seattle’s October postseason run, after which he had to clear a meniscus in his left knee and replace a disc in his neck.
“I had a herniated disc in my spine towards the end of the season and it was a bulging disc for most of the year,” said Winker. “The side effects and symptoms of that right there, it’s painful. You have pain in your neck and it’s in your arms, it’s in your back. And on top of that I was dealing with the knee. It created challenges for me, definitely .
“Anytime you’re dealing with things, you take the game and make it challenging, right? We all enjoy playing this game. It’s so much fun. When you’re dealing with that kind of thing, it challenges the fun of the game. But like I said, this is a league with no excuses. I didn’t have a good year. I had a bad year.
“So I’ve got some things sorted out and I’m looking forward to being healthy and I’m just really excited to be a Milwaukee Brewer and moving forward.”
He said he considers it a realistic goal to be ready for opening day.
“I should start my baseball activity in January,” he said. “Obviously it will be progress. I’m starting to make progress now. The neck is serious business and I’m taking my time with it and doing what my surgeon tells me to do and I’m not rushing. I’m thinking around spring training, as soon as I begin this baseball activity, I’ll be able to give you a clearer answer.
“I actually heard that today, Jan. 11, is the 10-week mark and that’s when I can start some light baseball work. So I’m looking forward to that day and then I can check off some boxes for the last few weeks before that.”
Winker gives the Brewers another veteran outfielder, reducing reliance on top prospects like Sal Frelick, Esteury Ruiz and Joey Wiemer early in the season, and is a .344 hitter with a 1,032 OPS in 32 career games in Milwaukee.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Winker said of his previous success at Miller Park/American Family Field.
“First of all it’s a great place to play. It’s a passionate fan base. Playing against the Brewers has always been very, very tough, very challenging, so I’m looking forward to being on the other side. is a great place to hit. You can see the ball. It’s just a great place. It’s definitely one of my favorite places I’ve ever played and I’m excited to get this thing going.”
Toro, who turns 26 on December 20, has played 262 games in the majors since 2019 and is a career batting .206 with 26 home runs, 99 RBI and an OPS of .621.
He can play anywhere in the infield but shortstop, is a switch-hitter and is under team control until 2027 on a minimal salary.
“There are a lot of really interesting ingredients,” Arnold said of Toro. “The performance he’s put in throughout his minor league career has been very positive and we think that will translate into major league production. That, plus his ability to play all over the diamond and then what kind of person He is.
“This is a guy who is a very unique person, a guy who brings a ton of energy to the field every day, a guy who we believe will improve our culture in a great way. So for a lot of reasons, we felt that he was a very, very good fit.
The Brewers and Mariners will play a three-game series April 17-19 in Seattle.