The number one second baseman on the free-agent market is DJ LeMahieu. Kolten Wong is one of those quality options who will come at a cheaper price than LeMahieu. While not at the same level offensively as the top second baseman, Wong has won a Gold Glove in each of the past two seasons and is a good baserunner. A free agent for the first time, Wong has spent his entire eight-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Outside of a reunion with St. Louis, here are some potential landing spots for Kolten Wong.
New York Yankees
If the New York Yankees are unable to resign LeMahieu, they will need to find middle infield help elsewhere. Their options internally are very limited, as it does not appear Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada could be solid starters. In 136 combined at-bats, the pair combined for a .169 batting average. Wong doesn’t hit for the average of a lot of contact hitters, but he is still a .261 hitter. Wong won’t give the Yankees power either, but they don’t need another one. They need someone who will put the ball in play and do damage on the basepaths. The 30-year-old can improve New York’s defense and baserunning, while coming at a cheaper price than LeMahieu.
The Cleveland Indians had a Gold Glove second baseman in Cesar Hernandez, but he is a free agent. Luckily, there is another Gold Glover who is on the market if they don’t re-sign Hernandez. Wong is a similar player to Hernandez but is more of a stolen base threat. Hernandez has stolen nine bases in the past two seasons while Wong has stolen 29 bags. Cleveland doesn’t have much power on their roster so they will need to manufacture some runs. Kolten Wong is an old-school type of player that can manufacture runs with the best of them.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox haven’t really had anybody who could stick at second base since Dustin Pedroia that was very evident in 2020 as Jose Peraza and Jonathan Arauz shared duties at second with little success. Peraza is a free agent and Arauz is still only 22 years old. Arauz would be in a good spot if he sat behind Wong for a few years and learned from the veteran. Alex Cora has harped on good baserunning in the past, and Wong could aid them in that regard. He would also anchor the team defensively while providing good at-bats at the top or bottom of the lineup. The Red Sox would be a great fit for Wong.
Adding Kolten Wong to the Oakland Athletics would give them one of the top defensive infields in all of baseball. Oakland already has a pair of Gold Glovers on the corners of the infield in Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Slotting Wong in at second would almost be an embarrassment of riches defensively. It would be hard to get any ground balls through the infield. Over the past three seasons, Wong has 43 Total Zone Fielding Runs above Average (rTot), including six in 2020. Tony Kemp and Tommy La Stella, among others, manned the second base position this year for Oakland. The group combined for -6 rTot. In addition to his defensive value, Wong would be valuable as a contact hitter in a feast-or-famine lineup. Oakland had six players strike out 50 or more times during the 2020 season.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have shown interest in just about every position player in this free agency, Wong included. While Toronto seems to be one of the teams who are seriously pursuing LeMahieu, Wong would once again be a great fallback option. He would be valuable in all aspects on the field, but his value would go beyond the white lines. Wong would be the one veteran in an otherwise young and inexperienced Blue Jay infield. He comes with plenty regular season experience as well as 31 games of postseason experience. Outside of the Red Sox and Athletics, the Blue Jays would be another terrific fit for Kolten Wong.
Wherever Kolten Wong ends up in free agency, he will provide his new team stellar defense and good at-bats whether he is at the top or bottom of the lineup. His veteran experience and leadership will be valuable regardless of the city he calls home.
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