Rickie Weeks Rumors

AL West Notes: Angels, Weeks, Crane

Happy birthday to A’s right-hander Tyler Clippard, who turns 30 years old today.  The newly-acquired bullpen arm received a pretty nice gift earlier this week when he and the Athletics avoided going an arbitration hearing by agreeing to an $8.3MM contract for 2015.  Here’s some more from around the AL West…

  • The Angels are “not aggressive” in their pursuit of any available Cuban players in the Dominican Republic, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets, though the club has had scouts watching.  The Halos have already made one major international acquisition this offseason, signing Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin to an $8MM bonus.  Baldoquin’s deal already put the Angels over their signing pool threshold for this international signing period, though I’d argue that since the team is already being penalized for that overage (limited to only $300K signings for each of the next two int’l signing periods), Anaheim might as well make a push to add more international talent before their penalty kicks in on July 2.
  • Rickie Weeks could end up playing all over the diamond in a depth role for the Mariners, GM Jack Zduriencik told reporters (including Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune), including both corner infield and outfield positions.  Weeks has never played anywhere in the field besides second base over his 11-year career, but said as his free agent market developed, “teams were thinking about me playing other positions, and I just opened up to it, really.”
  • Astros owner Jim Crane’s recent divorce settlement won’t have any impact on the club’s payroll or operations, team attorney Giles Kibbe told Evan Drellich and David Barron of the Houston Chronicle. “During our purchase of the Astros, MLB requested that the documents include certain language that would address these types of issues,” Kibbe said.  The league’s approach stems from how Frank McCourt’s 2011 divorce proceedings affected the Dodgers, an MLB official confirmed to Drellich and Barron, though Crane’s situation is far different than McCourt’s.

Mariners To Sign Rickie Weeks

FEB. 12: Weeks can also earn up to $2MM worth of incentives on his deal with Seattle, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).

FEB. 11: The Mariners and second baseman Rickie Weeks are in agreement on a one-year, $2MM Major League deal, pending a physical, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Twitter links). Weeks is represented by the Legacy Agency.

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As Bowden explains, Seattle will look to use Weeks to spell Robinson Cano at second base and will also deploy him in the corner outfield at times. That role would seem to make some sense, as left fielder Dustin Ackley batted a woeful .212/.255/.298 against left-handed pitching in 2014 and is a career .236/.295/.342 hitter against southpaws. Weeks, as I explained earlier this week in examining teams with which he could potentially fit, has handled lefties with aplomb throughout his career. He batted .256/.361/.504 and swatted seven homers against lefties in 2014 and has hit .261/.385/.448 against them in his career. I speculated within that piece that a team could deploy him in the corner outfield as well as the infield, though the Mariners didn’t strike me as an obvious fit given Cano’s presence.

However, Seattle has a notoriously left-leaning lineup, with only catcher Mike Zunino, DH Nelson Cruz and center fielder Austin Jackson projecting as right-handed regulars. Justin Ruggiano, acquired from the Cubs this offseason, figures to platoon with Seth Smith in right field, and Weeks will give manager Lloyd McClendon another right-handed bat, allowing him to slot in at least five righties on days when a left-handed pitcher takes the hill for Seattle opponents.

While some might find the fit curious, if not downright surprising, it’s not a complete shock to see the Mariners show interest, as GM Jack Zduriencik was the Brewers’ director of scouting when Weeks was selected with the second overall pick in 2003. Weeks established himself as Milwaukee’s everyday second baseman last decade and enjoyed three excellent seasons from 2009-11 in which he batted .269/.357/.472, even belting 29 homers in 2010. His production took a step back in 2012 and cratered in 2013, but he rebounded to an extent last year when he  served primarily as a platoon partner for Scooter Gennett.

Some of Weeks’ 2013 struggles can be attributed to a drastic dip in BABIP, but his strikeout rate has climbed upward a bit, and while he’s maintained a solid homer-to-flyball ratio, his overall amount of fly-balls has trended downward in a significant fashion. Weeks has become more of a ground-ball hitter, putting the ball on the ground more than 56 percent of the time in 2014, including a sky-high rate of 63.4 percent against right-handed pitching. If he can begin elevating the ball once again, he has a chance to restore some of his previous pop against righties, though the move to the pitcher-friendly Safeco Field in Seattle won’t help him achieve that goal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Finding A Home For Rickie Weeks

This time of year, few free agents will require a sizable commitment to add. While James Shields provided a notable exception, the bulk of remaining free agents can be had for relatively modest investments. Last winter, seemingly innocuous deals for Pat Neshek, Justin Turner and Zach Duke proved to be substantial bargains for the teams that issued them. In looking at the remaining free agents on the market, Rickie Weeks stands out as a once-excellent contributor who could still deliver value for a modest price.

The 32-year-old former No. 2 overall selection is hardly what he was in his brilliant 2009-11 peak when he batted .269/.357/.472 in 1431 plate appearances. Weeks showed consistent 20-30 homer power with good on-base skills and anywhere from slightly above-average to somewhat below-average defense, depending on your metric of choice. In his age 26-28 seasons, Weeks looked to be on the verge of cementing himself as one of the game’s elite second basemen.

Fast forward a few years, and we sit on Feb. 9, 2015, as Weeks looks for a job following up on a season in which he primarily deployed as a platoon bat. An overall batting line of .274/.357/.452 looks like a near-mirror image of Weeks’ heyday, but the sample size of plate appearances was less than half what he’d have earned in 2010, and his power against right-handed pitching was nonexistent.

Pair that with Weeks’ .209/.306/.357 line from the 2013 season, and one could easily write him off as a once-promising star that burned out quickly. That may ultimately be how he’s remembered, but there are also reasons to think that Weeks could provide some significant value in the 2015 season.

Weeks hit an impressive .256/.361/.504 line against left-handed pitching (seven homers in 155 PA), and quietly posted a nice overall batting line, although his good fortune on balls in play versus righties suggests that his cumulative .274/.357/.452 line should come down a bit across the board.

Looking back to Weeks’ 2013 season, he struggled with a .268 average on balls in play despite lowering his pop-up rate and hitting line drives and grounders at a rates that are roughly commensurate with his career marks. Weeks’ BABIP on grounders that season was 80 points below his career norm, while his BABIP on liners was about 50 points lower than usual. There’s definite reason to believe that some (though not all) of the downturn in production was an aberration.

Weeks has never been regarded as a great defender, and his glove has taken some significant steps back in recent years. A team would have to consider it a victory if his defense were merely below average as opposed to downright poor, but there are enough teams with questionable second base situations that a bat-first option or a platoon at the position should have some appeal. Weeks could also perhaps be deployed at third and in left field on occasion, one would think, if needed. Here are a few teams that make sense for the longtime Brewer…

  • Angels: The Halos are currently projected to use a combination of Grant Green, Josh Rutledge and Johnny Giavotella at second in 2015. None of those three offer much upside with the bat — though assistant GM Matt Klentak spoke very optimistically about Green when he was a guest on the MLBTR Podcast last fall — nor do any project to be elite (or even above-average) defenders. If the Angels are going with an open competition at second base, adding Weeks to the mix would seem a reasonable course of action.
  • Blue Jays: Toronto’s budgetary constraints are well known, but so is their dearth of usable options at second base. Maicer Izturis may see the bulk of time at the keystone in 2015, but he’s a 34-year-old coming off significant knee surgery and being asked to play half his games on artificial turf. Ryan Goins provides an all-glove alternative, but certainly Weeks could give the Jays an option with considerably greater upside at the plate.
  • Braves: The Braves signed Alberto Callaspo to man second base for the bulk of the season, and they also acquired a near-MLB ready infielder, Jace Peterson, in the Justin Upton trade. Nonetheless, an alternative to Callaspo should he struggle and should Peterson require more minor league development would seem logical for the Braves, even it comes with little certainty in its own right.
  • Giants: Joe Panik is slotted to play second again in 2015, and while the former first-round pick provided plenty of value in a 2014 audition, much of it came as a result of a .343 BABIP. Panik is a solid enough defender, but he offers no power (.063 ISO) and little speed. Weeks presents at the very least a platoon partner for Panik, who posted a sky-high .437 BABIP against lefties that he won’t repeat.
  • Orioles: Jonathan Schoop is an excellent defensive player with plenty of upside at the plate, but he hit a ghastly .209/.244/.354 in 2014. Additional depth at the position certainly wouldn’t hurt the O’s, whose next-best alternatives include the light-hitting Ryan Flaherty and the well-traveled Jimmy Paredes.
  • Padres: The Padres have a questionable infield mix, and while Jedd Gyorko is expected to man second base there, the team could, in theory, use him at third base while deploying Will Middlebrooks and Yonder Alonso in a platoon at first base. It’s not a perfect fit by any means, but the Friars should likely be open to adding more infield depth.
  • Royals: Kansas City shopped Omar Infante at the Winter Meetings and has little infield depth beyond Christian Colon. Bringing in Weeks would give them an alternative should Infante struggle and possibly someone to take some at-bats at third base against left-handed pitching to offset Mike Moustakas‘ platoon woes.

At this stage of the offseason, Weeks seems destined for a one-year deal with a relatively modest base salary, if not a minor league deal. Of the listed clubs, the Angels and Blue Jays make the most sense to me, but given the low level of risk associated with adding Weeks at this point, one could make the case for a number of clubs — even some not listed here.



AL Central Notes: Garcia, Viciedo, Weeks, Ichiro

The White Sox rank at the very top of the list of offseason winners compiled by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Rick Hahn ticked through many of the team’s questions this winter and should have a competitive team to show for it, says Heyman. Of course, despite plenty of praise, there are still some non-believers out there. They can point to this year’s PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus, which see Chicago as a 78-win team. Also of note from PECOTA, which is rather down on the division on the whole: the Tigers are tabbed as a .500 club, while the Royals project to win just 72 wins after appearing in the World Series last year.

More from the south side and the AL Central:

  • The White Sox are a much improved team heading into the 2015 season, but much of the optimism surrounding the club relies on the contributions of right fielder Avisail Garcia, writes Fangraphs’ Neil Weinberg. Perception appears to be that Garcia can handily outperform the just-designated Dayan Viciedo, but Weinberg cautions that we shouldn’t readily accept that as fact. Garcia’s stats to date tell a similar tale to that of Viciedo — modest on-base percentage with some power and below-average base-running and defensive skills. While Garcia’s track record is clearly smaller, the two are excellent statistical comps even when looking at their production through the age of 23. Weinberg notes that scouts have long questioned whether or not Garcia would be able to resist bad pitches and make enough contact to succeed, and the assumption that he will outperform Viciedo is based largely on perceived ceiling as opposed to likely outcomes.
  • Newly-designated White Sox slugger Dayan Viciedo should generate plenty of interest, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The American League West offers the best matches, Morosi argues, with the Mariners, Athletics, and Rangers all potentially making sense as landing spots.
  • Despite some apparent suggestions, the Twins are not interested in free agent second baseman Rickie Weeks, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. That is not terribly surprising, given that the right-handed-hitting Weeks does not play short and would presumably have needed to serve as a backup to two right-handed hitters in Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe.
  • Ichiro Suzuki‘s representatives (who he shares with Twins skipper Paul Molitor) tried to generate interest in the veteran from Minnesota, but the club never saw a fit, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. As Berardino explains, Ichiro and Molitor — both incredible pure hitters — share an interesting relationship.

The Open Market’s Most Intriguing Remaining Names

As it always does, the free agent market contains some fairly noteworthy names entering the final month before Spring Training. A good portion of the value at the top of the leftover market lies in established names who have been reliable, healthy, and good in the recent past: James Shields, Francisco Rodriguez, and the like.

Some of those types of players may be a bit long in the tooth, perhaps, or might lack upside or be coming off of a somewhat down 2014 season. But there are teams with expectations of contending that are interested in signing them and plugging them into important roster slots. This segment of the market contains relative certainty.

But as much as the solid veteran group is useful, it is entirely less interesting than the array of wild cards that also remain to be signed. For another market niche, comparative youth, talent, and/or upside marry with various issues, inconsistency, and/or injury. Some such players will surely flame out, never to be heard from again, but it is likewise possible that one or more will re-establish themselves as quality regulars and deliver immense value to their new teams.

If you are a fan of a team that wants someone to dream on without breaking the bank (or even committing a big league roster spot, in some cases), consider one of these players from the scratch-and-dent market:

  • Mike Adams, right-handed pitcher, 36 – Remember when the 6’5 reliever was a really effective set-up man? Wait, he has always been a really effective set-up man — when healthy. He may not have been on the field enough to deliver value to the Phillies on his $12MM free agent contract, but even while battling through injury Adams worked to a 3.50 ERA over 43 2/3 innings. Last year, especially, he was quite good: a 2.89 ERA (supported entirely by sub-3.00 ERA estimator marks) and better than ten punchouts per nine with a 56.3% groundball rate. Sure, it was a small sample (18 2/3) and his shoulder problems were still present. But if you’re going to roll the dice, it may as well be for a nice potential return.
  • John Axford, right-handed pitcher, 31 – Axford still pumps gas and still logs double-digit strikeout rates. Sure, he walked nearly six batters per nine last year and ERA estimators have been increasingly dubious of his quality over the past three seasons. If he can figure out a way to reign back in the free passes and yield a few fewer long balls, Axford still looks like a late-inning arm. And now, teams can take a chance on a return to form without the high salaries that he carried more recently.
  • Brandon Beachy, right-handed pitcher, 28 – The former Brave owns a lifetime 3.23 ERA over 46 big league starts, with a 3.34 FIP, 3.54 xFIP, and 3.39 SIERA. He has averaged better than nine strikeouts and less than three walks per nine innings. He also is on his second replacement UCL, this one installed last spring. In each of the above-referenced statistics, Beachy is entirely not-unlike fellow former Atlanta hurler Kris Medlen. Yet Beachy — who is one year younger — remains unsigned while Medlen has already secured an $8.5MM guarantee. He also can be controlled for an additional year through arbitration, with a low salary base to work from.
  • Chad Billingsley, right-handed pitcher, 30 – As with Beachy, Billingsley was once an effective starter who has struggled for some time now to return from Tommy John surgery. What the latter lacks in dominating upside, he makes up for in the lengthy run of reliable innings he provided before succumbing to elbow troubles. From the time he became a full-time starter in 2008 through the 2011 season (the one before his elbow troubles began), Billingsley averaged 194 frames of 3.73 ERA pitching.
  • Everth Cabrera, shortstop, 28 – Were it not for his off-field issues, it seems likely the Padres would have tendered the former starting shortstop and given him a chance to regain his 2013 form. The year before last, Cabrera registered a 114 wRC+ while swiping 37 bags (down from 44 in the season prior) and playing the best-rated defense of his career. That was a 3.1 fWAR player, even in a season cut short due to suspension. The 2014 version of Cabrera was not, even when on the field instead of nursing an injury. There are issues aplenty here, but his abilities stand out in a market that hurt for middle infield talent from the start. And it does not hurt that he comes with a year of arb control remaining.
  • Alexi Ogando, right-handed pitcher, 31 – Flipping back and forth between starting and relief, Ogando and his mid-90s heater have long been a storyline. And until last year’s dud, he had never been anything but effective. Even after putting up 25 innings at double the allowed runs rate that he had generally permitted, Ogando sits with a lifetime 3.35 earned run mark. The track record of arm trouble remains a concern, but Ogando’s velocity was just fine last year and he could easily be on the rise with a normal spring.
  • Rickie Weeks, second base, 32 – Once one of the game’s better keystone options, Weeks has stumbled backward in all areas of the game since 2012. But last year was a bit different; while his defensive metrics continued to lag behind his earlier work, Weeks did put up a .274/.357/.452 slash in 286 plate appearances that brought to mind better days. True, Weeks inflicted much of his damage against lefties, with his solid line against right-handers propped up by a .420 BABIP. But given his track record, a revived spurt of production at least raises the possibility of a late-career renaissance.

Quick Hits: Moncada, Dodgers, Johan, Varona

In an interview with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link), Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said his team will scout Yoan Moncada as they would any prospect of “great intrigue,” but “given our financial situation, I wouldn’t expect us to be the winners of an auction.”  Silverman feels this is another example of how difficult it is for successful small-market teams to replenish their systems, as “all of the [player acquisition] structures, whether it’s the draft or international, put us at a disadvantage.

Here’s some more from around baseball…

  • A group of South Korean investors are talking with the Dodgers about buying a minority stake of the franchise, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports.  The news was originally reported by two South Korean newspapers, one of which (the Korea Joongang Daily) reports that the discussed terms were $370MM for 20 percent of the team.  A source with knowledge of the talks told Shaikin there is a “zero” chance the Dodgers’ ownership group would give up control of the team in these negotiations.
  • The Phillies face a tough road back to respectability but they can get there within two to four years if they augment their financial resources with good young talent, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan opines.  The worst-case scenario would be if they make the wrong moves and revenues decline, thus putting the club in a long streak of losing seasons, a la the Orioles prior to their 2012 playoff appearance.
  • Peter Greenberg, Johan Santana‘s agent, said his client doesn’t have any structural damage in his shoulder, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  Santana was recently scratched from a Venezuelan Winter League start due to his shoulder, though Greenberg said Santana might return to pitch in the league playoffs.
  • Cuban outfielder Dayron Varona receives a scouting report from ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider subscription required), who praises Varona’s running and plus arm but has some questions about his hitting.  The current popularity of Cuban players could inflate Varona’s market, Law feels, though he thinks Varona will sign for “close to eight figures as a potential big league backup.”
  • The Blue Jays could consider Everth Cabrera as an option at second base, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  Presumably the Jays’ interest would hinge on the outcome of Cabrera’s ongoing legal case, which may not take place until April.  Heyman also notes that Rickie Weeks “seems to be further down [Toronto’s] list.”
  • ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield lists the five teams he felt improved the most and least this winter.

NL Central Notes: Pirates, Cueto, Lynn, Weeks

The Cubs’ signing of Jon Lester is the headline item out of the NL Central today, but here’s some other pertinent news from the division…

  • Now that the Pirates have re-signed Francisco Liriano, they’re probably not going to look for any more starting pitching and will instead focus on the bullpen, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (Twitter links).  The Bucs are willing to give a multiyear contract to a reliever “if it’s right guy-right deal situation.”
  • The Reds met with Johnny Cueto‘s agent today to explore a long-term extension, GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon).  “If it’s possible, I’m not sure it will be, I think it’s still something we have to take a look at as we explore every possibility,” Jocketty said.
  • Teams have reportedly been calling the Reds about Cueto and Aroldis Chapman, though Jocketty said that the Reds aren’t themselves shopping those pitchers.  “I don’t know where the Chapman stuff came from….I walked into the room today and asked our guys if there was anything on Chapman,” the GM said.  “I got three texts and a phone call this morning. I’ll listen to anything that makes sense. It was not something we initiated….I don’t consider, unless we get proposals from clubs, that it’s anything legitimate. It’s just inquiring.”
  • Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch) that it’s “fair to say” that Lance Lynn‘s name came up during Mozeliak’s meeting today with an Excel Sports Management agent, as Lynn is an Excel client.  While Mozeliak didn’t comment on the meeting, Langosch wonders if the two sides could’ve discussed Lynn’s forthcoming arbitration eligibility or perhaps even a multiyear extension for the right-hander.
  • The Cardinals have some interest in Rickie Weeks, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets.  The Cards would use Weeks as a right-handed bench bat and possibly also as first base depth, which would require Weeks to learn a new position.
  • How quiet has this Winter Meetings been for the Brewers?  Haudricourt reports (Twitter link) that as of earlier tonight, the Crew had yet to personally meet with any agents or with representatives from another team.

Brewers Decline Rickie Weeks’ Option

The Brewers have announced the decision to decline their $11.5MM club option on Rickie Weeks, making him a free agent. Additionally, the team officially announced that it will exercise Yovani Gallardo‘s option as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported yesterday.

Weeks, 32, was the No. 2 overall selection of the 2003 draft by the Brewers. He’s spent his entire career with Milwaukee. He emerged as one of baseball’s best second basemen from 2007-11, hitting .255/.357/.448 with an average of 18 homers, 13 steals, 2.5 rWAR and 3.1 fWAR per season in that stretch. However, his production has declined steadily since that time, as he’s batted .233/.327/.398 since that time and eventually fell into the short end of a platoon role with the left-handed hitting Scooter Gennett.

Weeks inked a four-year, $38.5MM contract extension prior to the 2011 season. He will now hit the open market in a thin class for second basemen. Because of the lack of free agent competition, some clubs figure to have interest in Weeks in a full-time capacity despite lackluster performances against right-handed pitching in recent years. It should be noted, of course, that Weeks did hit .294/.351/.395 in a small sample of 131 plate appearances against righties this year and .274/.357/.452 overall, giving interested clubs reason for optimism.


NL Central Notes: Weeks, K-Rod, Pirates, Polanco

Rickie Weeks doesn’t think that he’ll be back with the Brewers next season, he tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Weeks, who has an $11.5MM club option that won’t be exercised, didn’t request a final appearance with the team in the season’s last game. “I told the manager if the time permitted itself during the game to put me out there, OK. If not, so be it,” he said. “Life still goes on. It’s not like this is the end of all (things). I’m the type of person that I move on. That’s the way it is. I don’t think I’m going to be here next year. It’s just for me to go out there and move forward with my life.”

Some more NL Central items as the playoffs loom…

  • Francisco Rodriguez also spoke to Haudricourt about his future, and unlike Weeks, who seems resigned to being elsewhere, K-Rod hopes to return to the Brewers in 2015. “I definitely know where I want to be,” he said. “I want to be here. But it is not my decision.” As Haudricourt points out, Milwaukee’s trade for Jonathan Broxton and his $9MM salary next season could give Broxton the inside track for the closer’s gig and push K-Rod out of the picture. The team additionally saw a breakout performance from Jeremy Jeffress and expects to have Jim Henderson returning to health.
  • MLB.com’s Tom Singer spoke with Pirates general manager Neal Huntington about the team’s lack of an impact trade this summer in a recent Q&A. Huntington wasn’t sure whether it was more satisfying to get to the postseason on the back of some well-executed trades (such as last year’s acquisition of Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau) or to get there by trusting his internal options. “This July 31 (non-waiver Trade Deadline) we wanted to, we were willing to, give up prospects as we did last August. We worked hard to find the right deal, large and small, and we couldn’t find the right impact coming in the door to match the impact that would’ve been going out the door.”
  • Huntington also touched on the timeline of Gregory Polanco‘s promotion to the Majors, noting that he wishes Neil Walker wouldn’t have gotten hurt. Had Walker remained healthy, Josh Harrison wouldn’t have had to shift to second base — a move that necessitated the promotion of Polanco, according to Huntington. “I hated [promoting Polanco]. I really did,” said Huntington. As the GM explained, the team thought Polanco was “borderline ready,” but he also stated: “There’s a reason why that Triple-A level exists, why most guys who have had success at the Major League level have experienced Triple-A beyond 250 at-bats.” Polanco got off to a blistering start in his first two weeks but has batted just .204/.275/.324 since and started just three games in September.

NL Central Notes: Martin, Huntington, Brewers, Cubs

As a former player, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly can relate to what Cubs prospects Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara are going through, writes David Just of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s just a time factor with the young guys,” Mattingly said. “They can look good right away, and the next year they come out and it doesn’t look good. Or they can look kind of shaky and figure a lot of it out. So time is going to tell.” As a youngster, Mattingly got off to a slow start with the Yankees, hitting .278 with a .326 on-base percentage in his first 98 games during the 1982 and ’83 seasons. He then led the American League in hits, doubles, and batting average in 1984.

Here’s the latest from the NL Central:

  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington says re-signing catcher Russell Martin is a priority for the franchise, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We are going to try to do everything we can to keep Russ,” said Huntington. “We’d love nothing more than to have (Martin) in a Pirates uniform.
  • Huntington, however, reiterated the Pirates will not veer from their financial philosophy. “We’re going to continue to have to pay guys for what we believe they’re going to do, and not what they’ve done,” said Huntington (as quoted by MLB.com’s Stephen Pianovich). “The bigger markets certainly have luxury to be able to extend much beyond comfort levels to pay an extra year or two, to pave over prior mistakes with more money.
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin does not “think there’s a need to go out and try to get another starter” and will instead focus on offense this offseason, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The Brewers are all but certain to pick up the $13MM option on Yovani Gallardo, McCalvy opines.
  • The Brewers‘ biggest offseason decisions will be the infield corners and whether to exercise Gallardo’s option, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a recent chat. The Brewers will consider both internal and external options at first base, but Haudricourt notes finding productive first basemen is easier said than done.
  • In a separate piece, Haudricourt writes Rickie Weeks is nearing the end of his tenure with the Brewers (his $11.5MM option isn’t expected to be exercised), but the team’s senior member in terms of service time is not thinking about 2015. “I’ll worry about that when the time comes,” Weeks said. “I’m still with the Brewers right now. That’s the way I look at it.
  • What we’d really like is to have a bunch of really good baserunners,” is what Cubs manager Rick Renteria told reporters, including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, when asked about the club’s 2015 wish list.