This offseason saw the departure of Kolten Wong, who was traded to Seattle in exchange for Jesse Winker and Abraham Toro. The absence of the veteran Wong creates a bit of an interesting spot for the Brewers. The opening could create an opportunity for the young Brice Turang, who is expected to make the rise from the minor leagues to the big leagues this year. This opening could also see some more consistent time from Luis Urias, who has some experience at that spot last year. Even Toro could use his Major League experience to get some starts.
The battle for the Opening Day spot will be interesting to follow during Spring Training, let's see who could be in play.
Despite missing significant time at the start of the season due to a quad injury, Luis Urias was a productive member of the lineup. Slashing .239/.335/.404 with 16 home runs, Urias was slightly down from the form he showed in 2021. With that being said, he was still fourth on the team in WAR at 3.1, while producing a 110 OPS+, just shy of the 112 number he posted the season before.
Urias enters the 2023 campaign listed as the starter at both second base and third base on Milwaukee’s depth chart. His 46 appearances at second base in 2022 show he has the range to be an everyday starter at the position, however, don’t expect that to be the case. What makes Urias so valuable to the Brewers lineup is his ability to move around the infield. I still believe we will see Urias lining up at third for most of the season, but don’t be surprised if his time at second increases as a young crop of Brewers adjusts to their on the Major League squad.
Acquired in the Winkler/Wong trade, Toro provides another option for the Brewers at second. The Brewers love their position players to have range, and that is exactly what Toro brings to the table in his first season as a Brewer. In 2022, Toro saw time at second, first, third, right field, and DH. With an OPS+ of 63 in 2022, don’t anticipate Toro to be the solution at second, instead playing a utility role as the Brewers try to further develop Turang. His high strikeout numbers are also a concern for consistency in the Brewers’ lineup. On the plus side, he has only seen one season of 100-plus games (2022), so he has some upside that the Brewers can enjoy down the road.
The future of the Brewers’ second base position rests on the shoulders of Turang. The Brewers’ number four prospect in 2022 continued his rise through the Brewers system last season, finishing the year with an OPS of .772 while slashing .286/.360/.412. His home run total doubled from six to 13 in 2022 during his first full season in Triple-A. He has shown his speed can be his most valuable weapon, as he hit 24 doubles and stole 34 bases a season ago.
Turang can add a good lefty presence to the lineup. His lack of experience at the big-league level could limit his opportunities as an everyday second baseman, at least early on. He can make his mark as a solid fielder who can get on base as opposed to hitting for power. The upside that he brings will give him the nod over some of the other guys down on this list — and potentially Toro if he can leap him on the depth chart.
The utility man Mike Brosseau spent most of his time in 2022 at third base, but don’t be surprised to see him get some time at second. His first season in Milwaukee saw him slash .255/.344/.418 in a career-high 70 games. Brosseau is a typical utility man who won’t see consistent time at second if everyone stays healthy, but he offers good insurance and depth to the position.
Acquired this past offseason on a minor league deal, VanMeter will likely start the season with the Nashville Sounds. Last season with the Pirates, he posted an OPS of .558 with three home runs. He’s another lefty bat that will have to work his way to the big-league team, but he does offer some versatility as a lefty and the ability to play all over the field.