The Brewers had a productive meeting with Greg Genske, the agent for second baseman Rickie Weeks, on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings and club officials remain cautiously optimistic about reaching a contract extension.
“We had a productive meeting and we have agreed to continue to talk,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said.
Asked whether contract proposals had been exchanged, Ash said, “I think we’re going to leave it at, we have reason to continue to talk.”
Weeks is arbitration-eligible this winter after earning $2.75 million last year. He will be a free agent after the 2011 season.
So the Brewers and Genske have two options. Either come to an agreement on a multi-year extension that would buy out one or some of Weeks’ free agent seasons, something the club has already done with left fielder Ryan Braun, right-fielder Corey Hart and No. 1 starter Yovani Gallardo, or settle for a one-year contract to avoid arbitration.
The Brewers prefer the long-term option, but talks with Genske are complicated by the difficulty in valuing Weeks, the second overall pick in the 2003 Draft. On one hand, he’s coming off the finest season of his career, having set career-highs in runs (112), hits (175), doubles (32), home runs (29), RBIs (83) and hit by pitches (25). Weeks was healthy all year and broke Paul Molitor’s 19-year old franchise record for plate appearances.
But before that, Weeks’ career had been marred by injuries.
Weeks was promoted to the Majors for good midway through the 2005 season and immediately ran into trouble with injuries. He had surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb at the end of the season, and had another procedure in 2006 to repair a tendon in his right wrist. He spent a bit less than three weeks on the disabled list in 2007 with tendonitis in that wrist as scar tissue broke up. He injured his left knee during the 2008 National League Division Series and needed surgery to repair his meniscus. And in 2009, he was lost for the season on May 17 to a left wrist injury that needed yet another surgery, the same procedure Weeks underwent nearly three years earlier on the other hand.
In 2010, Weeks finally stayed healthy for a Major League-best 754 plate appearances and proved one of baseball’s best offensive second basemen.
It makes finding a “comp” for Weeks — a comparable player for valuation purposes — somewhat complicated.
“He is [tough] because of his capabilities, what he did last year, he hasn’t been able to do on a consistent basis because of injury,” Ash said. “It’s an interesting situation. …
“It’s a different discussion if it’s a one-year discussion as an arbitration player versus a multi-year discussion. Arbitration is clearly, ‘What have you done to date?’ Free agency obviously is, ‘What do you think the guy is worth going forward?'”