Brewers officials say they aren’t worried about second baseman Rickie Weeks self-imposed start of Spring Training deadline for talks between his agent and the club about a contract extension.
Weeks is in his final winter of arbitration eligibility and could reach free agency following the 2011 season if the sides cannot reach an agreement on an extension. He doesn’t want to be distracted by those discussions after reporting to Maryvale Baseball Park later this month.
“After Spring Training [begins], I want to focus on the year and the team,” Weeks said.
But that deadline didn’t bother Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash, who has been handling discussions with agent Greg Genske regarding Weeks.
Ash and Genske were believed to have tabled multi-year talks to focus on a one-year deal on Jan. 18, when Weeks filed for $7.2 million in arbitration and the Brewers offered $4.85 million. But Ash said Sunday at “Brewers On Deck” that the multi-year talks were never totally abandoned, and that the sides have had “parallel” discussions all along in hopes of avoiding an arbitration hearing that is scheduled for Feb. 17.
“I think the process creates a deadline, to some degree,” Ash said. “We continue to talk about all kinds of different things, ever since the first of December. I don’t see [Weeks’ deadline] as an issue at all. …
“In fact, I’m glad he said that, because that’s the way it should be. Once you get on the field, that’s where your focus needs to be.”
The gap in Weeks’ filing figure and the Brewers’ is $2.345 million. The midpoint of figures is $6.025 million.
Ash said that if the talks swing toward a multi-year agreement, a deal could be struck very quickly.
“We’re still talking,” Ash said. “That’s good news when you’re still talking. … There have been multi-year deals of significance done in a half-hour. You know what the market is and you have willingness on both sides, they’re actually pretty easy to do if there’s an understandoing of that the ‘deal zone’ is.”
The trouble with Weeks has been finding that zone. On one hand he’s coming off his best season,having led the Majors in home runs (28), RBIs (81) and runs scored (110) from the leadoff spot. On the other hand, it was Weeks’ first injury-free season in years.
Weeks said he’d spoken to Ash and general manager Doug Melvin and expressed his interest in an extension. The more difficult part is reaching an agreement.
“I can’t say if I’m disappointed or not,” Weeks said. “It is what it is. Of course, I’m a Brewer this year and that’s all that matters. I’m happy for the team. They made some great moves this year to help us get to that next level and go deep into the playoffs. It sounds good on paper, but we have to work it out.”
Weeks is one of two arbitration-eligible Brewers still unsigned. The other is pitcher Shaun Marcum, who is seeking $5 million in 2011. The Brewers countered at $3 million. Marcum’s hearing is scheduled for the week of Feb. 7.