Rickie Weeks Rumors

Quick Hits: Weeks, Dodgers, Cuddyer, Mets

On this day 20 years ago, the Atlanta Braves signed Falcons cornerback Deion Sanders as a free agent. Though he struggled in his first year as a Brave, 'Prime Time' was a key contributor for the National League champs in 1992; he hit .304/.346/.495 with 26 stolen bases in 325 regular season plate appearances and added eight hits and five steals in four World Series games. Sanders ended up leaving both Atlanta franchises in 1994, but not before he racked up 75 stolen bases and ten touchdowns for the Braves and Falcons respectively. Here are Sunday's links:

Rickie Weeks Has Deadline For Extension Negotiations

Rickie Weeks, who is eligible for free agency after 2011, does not want to talk about a multiyear extension once Spring Training begins, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Once I get to Spring Training, I want to focus on baseball," the second baseman told Haudricourt.

Weeks, 28, is still without a contract for 2011, though we heard this morning that the Brewers are optimistic about working out a one-year deal rather than going to a hearing. Arbitration eligible for the last time, Weeks filed for $7.2MM, while the Brewers countered with $4.85MM.

The Brewers have expressed a desire to sign Weeks to a multiyear deal, but tabled those talks for the time being, while they work on a one-year contract. Even if the two sides agree on a salary for 2011 soon, the Brewers will have to re-open multiyear discussions fairly quickly if they hope to lock Weeks up long-term before his Spring Training deadline. Given how far apart the two sides were when they talked before, Haudricourt says an extension before Spring Training "sounds almost impossible."

Arbitration Rumors: Marcum, Weeks, Liriano, Young

17 arbitration eligible players remain unsigned, according to MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, and only four teams have more than one outstanding case. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MLB.com's Kelly Thesier provide negotiation updates on two of those clubs with multiple cases, the Brewers and Twins….

  • Brewers negotiator Teddy Werner is optimistic that the team will reach agreements with both Shaun Marcum and Rickie Weeks without going to a hearing.
  • Both players are exclusively discussing one-year deals with the Brewers, though Werner conveyed the club's desire to work out a long-term extension with Weeks later this year.
  • Like the Brewers, the Twins appear to be focusing on one-year deals, rather than multiyear extensions, with their arbitration eligible players, Francisco Liriano and Delmon Young. "Right now, we're focused on trying to get them signed for 2011, and we'll go from there," Minnesota GM Bill Smith told Thesier.
  • Smith appears willing to go to a hearing with either player if they can't settle on a figure the Twins like: "We'll continue to work on these two guys, and if we can reach agreement, we will. If not, then there's an arbitration panel that will do it."

Ten Arbitration Cases To Watch

There aren't many unsigned arbitration eligible players remaining at this point in the winter, but many of the most high-profile cases remain unresolved. As MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows, 26 arbitration eligible players have yet to agree on their 2011 salaries. Some of them will sign extensions, some will go to hearings and others will avoid arbitration with one-year deals. Here's a primer on ten of the most interesting arbitration eligible players out there:

10. Mike Napoli, Blue Jays - In case arbitration cases weren't complicated enough, the Blue Jays have to defend the Angels' number ($5.3MM) if they go to an arbitration hearing with Napoli, who filed at $6.1MM. The numbers stand, even though the Blue Jays acquired the catcher/first baseman after the Angels exchanged arbitration submissions with him.

9. R.A. Dickey, Mets – Dickey has said he's open to a multiyear deal. We'll soon know whether Mets GM Sandy Alderson wants to extend the knuckleballer or settle on a contract in the $3.35-4.7MM range.

8. Delmon Young, Twins - There's a $1.6MM difference between Young's asking price ($6.25MM) and the Twins' suggested salary ($4.65MM). 

7. Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles – As I explained yesterday, Guthrie's case could come down to his durability (175 innings in four consecutive seasons) vs. the fact that comparable starters (John Danks, Chad Billingsley, Matt Garza) have been harder to hit.

6. Rickie Weeks, Brewers – The Brewers are no longer discussing a multiyear deal with Weeks, who is asking for $7.2MM. The Brewers countered with $4.85MM.

5. Francisco Liriano, Twins - Liriano made $1.6MM last year and posted a 3.62 ERA with 9.4 K/9 in 191 2/3 innings. His representatives at Legacy Sports will argue that he has earned a raise to $5MM, while Bill Smith and the Twins say $3.6MM is more appropriate.

4. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros – Rodriguez's $10.25MM asking price seems high until you realize how few arbitration eligible pitchers have comparable big league experience (the Astros offered $8MM). Rodriguez is just 15 innings shy of 1,000 for his career and his ERA hasn't surpassed 3.60 in any of the past three seasons. The lefty's 985 innings are 246 more than Erik Bedard had after 2008, the season that set Bedard up for a $7.75MM payday. Few arbitration eligible pitchers earn eight-figure deals, but few have as much big league experience and success as Rodriguez.

3. Jered Weaver, Angels - Weaver requested $8.8MM, while the Angels countered with $7.465MM. Either way, the Scott Boras client will be earning substantially more than he did in 2010, when he made $4.625MM.

2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – I wrote last fall that Bautista's case comes down to his historic 2010 season vs. the forgettable campaigns he strung together before last year. Click here to read more.

1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers - The Rangers could bring up Hamilton’s injury history and past substance abuse, but they would have to do so subtly, says Michael Vlessides, a veteran arbitration consultant.  “It’s the fine line between how much do you pick on the guy who’s the MVP. If you do it too much, you can lose a lot of credibility” Vlessides said. Beating MVPs in arbitration hearings isn’t easy, but the Pirates beat Barry Bonds after he won his first MVP in 1990 and again the following offseason.

Arbitration Figures: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. Let's keep track of those figures here, with the latest updates on top. You can track all of the players that avoided arbitration today here.


Brewers, Weeks No Longer Talking Multiyear Deal

TUESDAY, 6:06pm: MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that the two sides have "mutually agreed to change courses and focus on a one-year deal for 2011." Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said they'll "try to get something done for this year and then continue to talk longer-term and use this as a placeholder, perhaps."

MONDAY, 10:12pm: The Brewers and Rickie Weeks are scheduled to exchange contract figures tomorrow but the two sides continue to focus on hammering out a multiyear deal, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  Assistant GM Gord Ash says that all of the talks that he's had with Weeks' agent, Greg Genske, have been for multiyear deals.

"We've focused exclusively on a multi-year deal," Ash explained. "We've never discussed a one-year deal. I'm not concerned about it. One way or the other, it will get resolved."

The two sides have swapped proposals over the past few weeks but Ash says that he doesn't feel that a deal is near.  Last month, the talks were characterized as "productive".  This is Weeks' final arbitration eligible year as he will become a free agent after the 2011 season.

Haudricourt writes that one of the difficulties in reaching a deal with Weeks is that its tough to find a comparable for him.  The second baseman has missed a great deal of time due to injury but stayed healthy in 2010 and hit .269/.366/.464 with 29 homers.  Dan Uggla signed a five-year, $62MM deal in his final year of arbitration but Ash says that he isn't a true comparable due to his years of hitting for power.

While Milwaukee looks to hammer out a multiyear deal with Weeks, GM Doug Melvin has taken the opposite approach with Prince Fielder.  Melvin tried to work out a multiyear deal last year with agent Scott Boras but couldn't make any headway.  The GM declined to comment when asked if he'll again try to workout a multiyear deal with his star slugger.

Brewers Rumors: Weeks, Capuano, Francis, Webb

The Brewers have had some trade discussions about Prince Fielder, and inquired on Matt Garza. Here are the rest of the details on the Crew:

  • The Brewers had "productive" talks with Rickie Weeks' representatives about a potential extension, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Assistant GM Gord Ash says the sides have "reason to continue to talk" to Weeks, who can become a free agent after the 2011 season.
  • GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt that he intends to meet with the agent for Craig Counsell and work a deal out soon. The Brewers have made the veteran infielder more than one proposal. 
  • The Brewers have another offer out to Chris Capuano and are waiting to hear from him. 
  • Manager Ron Roenicke says the team would like to pair Jonathan Lucroy with a veteran catcher next year, according to Haudricourt (Twitter link).
  • The Brewers seem hesitant to commit to a pitcher coming back from an injury, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
  • Melvin says the Brewers haven't called the agent for Jeff Francis, though they've been linked to the left-hander repeatedly. The team scouted Brandon Webb, but their level of interest in the former Cy Young Award winner seems low.
  • The Brewers have had discussions with the Braves, but Melvin says he doesn't have any ongoing talks with Atlanta.

Brewers Notes: Weeks, Free Agency, Trades

We've already heard that the Brewers are leaning toward keeping Prince Fielder this offseason. Here are the rest of the day's Brewers rumors:

  • Rickie Weeks is open to discussing an extension with the Brewers, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Jon Heyman of SI.com reported yesterday that the Brewers were set to start talking about a potential deal with the second baseman.
  • The Brewers will not pursue free agent starters aggressively, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Instead, they'll look to add pitching through trades. Acquiring top starters without dealing Fielder will be a major challenge for GM Doug Melvin.

Heyman On Weeks, Matsui, Pujols

SI's Jon Heyman is gathering all kinds of information at the GM Meetings; here's the latest…

  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin will talk to second baseman Rickie Weeks today about a possible extension, tweets Heyman.  The arbitration eligible Weeks is one year away from free agency.
  • Heyman tweets that the White Sox are talking to free agent designated hitter Hideki Matsui, who would fit as one of two lefty bats they hope to acquire.  The Sox have already had preliminary discussions with Adam Dunn's agent.  Heyman says the Cubs have not appeared to be big suitors for Dunn so far.
  • Regarding Albert Pujols, Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt does not want to repeat Alex Rodriguez's ten-year, $275MM contract.  In fact, he believes the Yankees would retract A-Rod's deal if they could.  Heyman floated an eight-year, $240MM deal to DeWitt, who questioned the $30MM salary.
  • Expensive closers Jonathan Papelbon and Francisco Cordero are on the trade market, with the Red Sox and Reds willing to kick in money.  Still, Heyman sees the Red Sox retaining Papelbon, whose trade market is weak.
  • Heyman could see something around three years and $57MM for Derek Jeter.
  • Heyman believes the Orioles are looking at Paul Konerko and/or Adrian Beltre for their corner infield openings.

Rosenthal On Brewers, Doubront, Marlins, Barmes

In case there was any doubt, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Brewers aren't going to trade Ryan Braun. However, the Brewers are open to trading any of their other top hitters for rotation help. That means Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee and, of course, Prince Fielder would be available in the right deal. Here are the details and the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:

  • The Brewers don't want to trade top players for back-of-the-rotation starters, but teams are reluctant to include top young pitchers in potential deals.
  • The Padres have spoken repeatedly to the Brewers about minor league infielder Brett Lawrie, who could be obtained for young pitching.
  • Adrian Gonzalez is still drawing trade interest, even though he won't be ready to swing a bat until the end of Spring Training.
  • Two GMs tell Rosenthal that the Red Sox are open to trading Felix Doubront. One says Boston would part with the left-hander "in a heartbeat" and the other guaranteed the Red Sox will trade him by mid-summer. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told Rosenthal that the Red Sox "value Felix tremendously" and that the report "couldn't be further from the truth."
  • Every young Orioles pitcher "could be in play for the right bat," Rosenthal reports. 
  • If the Marlins trade Dan Uggla, they would use the savings to sign at least one free agent. John Buck is a target for the Marlins regardless of whether they trade or extend Uggla.
  • The A's don't have interest in Mark Reynolds.
  • The Rockies are drawing lots of interest in Clint Barmes. They could trade or non-tender the infielder if they aren't able to sign him to a multi-year contract.
  • Cody Ross and Javier Lopez are strong candidates to receive extensions from the Giants.