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Rickie Weeks Rumors
Four years ago today, the Devil Rays traded Russell Branyan to the Padres for Evan Meek and a player to be named later (Dale Thayer). Meek would be taken from the Rays by the Pirates in the '07 Rule 5 draft but was designated for assignment the following May. Meek cleared waivers and the Rays rejected his return, taking cash considerations from the Bucs. This year, Meek represented the Pirates at the All-Star game. Today's links:
- Rickie Weeks chose Greg Genske of Legacy Sports as his new agent after his previous representative, Lon Babby, became president of the Phoenix Suns, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- A Mets official told ESPN's Adam Rubin the team won't be pursuing Cliff Lee in the offseason.
- Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans confirmed to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that they claimed Cody Ross in part to block him from going to the Padres.
- Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia talked to WEEI's Rob Bradford about why they signed long-term extensions. Youkilis knows he could've made more as a free agent after this season, but he points out that he's making more money than he ever thought he would. Youk believes players should go through arbitration at least once, as he did. For more on players who would've been eligible for free agency after this season had they not signed extensions, check out our August 16th article.
- Bradford's colleague Alex Speier looks at Boston's recent history of acquiring players despite being included in their no-trade clauses.
- Joe Posnanski explains that pitchers with Hall of Fame stuff getting beaten by injuries is the rule, not the exception.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt has some updates for Brewers fans as the organization looks to the future. It appears that Corey Hart's recent three-year extension may only be the beginning as the Brew Crew tries to set itself up for future success.
The Brewers will offer an extension to Rickie Weeks, who's enjoying a fine rebound season after an injury-shortened 2009. The former number-two overall pick is hitting .272/.368/.485 with 23 home runs and seven steals on the year. His speed numbers may be down, but Weeks still remains a power/speed combination and an offensive force at second base. Weeks will need to replace his agent, and once he accomplishes that, an extension will be offered.
One player who the Brewers likely won't be able to agree with is Prince Fielder. The Scott Boras client was offered an extension in the neighborhood of five years and $100MM, but the Brewers completely cut off talks when they learned he was seeking nearly double that amount — likely looking for a deal similar to Mark Teixeira's eight-year, $180MM contract. Haudricourt says that the Brewers won't advertise it for now, but they're likely to shop Fielder this offseason to bolster their rotation.
Losing Fielder leaves a hole in the offense, but it's possible the club is looking to replace him with Mat Gamel, or move Hart to first base and place Gamel in right field. As Haudricourt points out, Hart was drafted as a first baseman, and his 6'6" frame is conducive to the position.
It's possible that Lorenzo Cain dethrones Carlos Gomez as the club's everyday center fielder. The Brewers were clearly looking for more than Gomez's .286 OBP when they traded J.J. Hardy to Minnesota for him this past offseason.
If Milwaukee does indeed try to make Fielder available, there will be no shortage of suitors. While the free agent market does feature Adam Dunn, the majority of others consist of injury risks, fading stars, players coming off career years, or some combination of the three.
Asked whether he's discussed an extension with Rickie Weeks, Brewers GM Doug Melvin replied in the affirmative. Melvin added that he told Weeks last night about Corey Hart's new deal. Weeks' agent Lon Babby was recently named president of basketball operations of the Phoenix Suns, but Melvin said that situation is between Babby and Weeks.
Weeks, 28 in September, has finally combined performance and health in 2010. He's got a .276/.375/.488 line on the season, and with 22 home runs he trails only Dan Uggla among second basemen. Weeks is earning $2.75MM this season, and should get a big raise for his final arbitration year in 2011 if an extension is not reached beforehand.
The Brewers are listening to offers on Prince Fielder and Corey Hart, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney. The tweet echoes a similar report by Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse, though Olney suggests that the Brewers have no interest in moving Rickie Weeks.
Fletcher reported that the Brewers were entertaining offers for Fielder because they don't expect to be able to re-sign him when he hits free agency in 2011. Olney offers similar thoughts in two more tweets, indicating there's a very slim chance Milwaukee could afford to lock up the Scott Boras client to an extension. Boras figures to be looking for a contract larger, in both years and dollars, than Ryan Howard's five-year, $125MM deal. Earlier this season, Fielder and Boras turned down an extension offer similar to Howard's, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).
Meanwhile, the Giants have been the team most frequently linked to Hart, though the last rumor we heard had the Brewers asking for more than San Francisco was willing to pay. Hart will earn $4.8MM this year, while Fielder is making $10.5MM. Each player will be eligible for arbitration for the last time in 2011 before becoming free agents.
In a final tweet, Olney adds that David Bush could also be an interesting trade chip for the Brew Crew if they go into sell mode. Bush, who will be eligible for free agency this winter, has a 4.23 ERA in 17 outings this year, including a 2.74 mark since his seven-run blow-up in Minnesota on May 21st.
Some Thursday notes from around the majors…
- Aroldis Chapman recorded seven strikeouts while allowing three hits and a walk over five shutout innings for the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville tonight, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Chapman is in the midst of a 10 2/3 inning scoreless streak.
- Fangraphs' Jack Moore looks at Alex Gordon's ongoing demolition of Triple-A pitching and says "there’s no excuse if he’s not back in Kansas City by June."
- Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that "many people believe" the Yankees will designate Randy Winn for assignment when Curtis Granderson returns from the DL. Feinsand believes the Yanks should keep Winn and instead send Kevin Russo back to the minors.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports (via Twitter) that the Brewers have signed right-hander Eduardo Morlan to a minor-league deal. The Brewers selected Morlan from Tampa Bay in the 2008 Rule 5 draft but he was designated for assignment and returned to the Rays during spring training of that year. The Rays just released Morlan two days ago.
- ESPN's Insider Rumors section (subscription required) speculates that Rickie Weeks could be a trade candidate if Milwaukee doesn't want to pay his likely arbitration raise in the winter. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explored the Brewers' trade options last week, and noted that Weekes' arbitration salary bump might also cause teams to shy away from acquiring him.
- John Schuerholz chatted on the air with Sirius XM Radio's Jim Bowden today. Bowden tweeted that Schuerholz feels the Braves have enough pop in their lineup and don't "need to make a Fred McGriff type trade." The Crime Dog was acquired by Atlanta in July 1993 for Donnie Elliott, Vince Moore and Melvin Nieves — don't you always need to make a deal like that?
- Bowden also had Baltimore president Andy MacPhail on his show, and speculates (via Twitter) that the O's will look to draft Jameson Taillon based on MacPhail's description of his club's wants. Bowden also tweeted that MacPhail didn't offer an endorsement of manager Dave Trembley, and instead just noted that it's still early in the season.
- Omar Minaya said the Mets might look to trade for a starter later in the summer, reports Kieran Darcy of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Fanhouse's Ed Price explains how Philadelphia's unheralded signings of Jose Contreras and Danys Baez have bailed out their bullpen over the first two months of the season.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com answers Cleveland-related fan questions in a mailbag about such topics as when Michael Brantley will return to the majors, the recent release of Scott Lewis, and how the Tribe passed on Jason Heyward in the 2007 amateur draft.
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Now that ace Yovani Gallardo is locked up for the next five years, Brewers' GM Doug Melvin can begin to focus on getting another one of his good young players signed long-term. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy notes that while Prince Fielder remains the priority, it might also make sense for the team to explore locking up second baseman Rickie Weeks.
"If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't," Weeks said. "You don't want to leave too much on the table, but then there's security."
Weeks wouldn't confirm if his representatives and the team have discussed a deal. The 27-year-old is productive when he's on the field, hitting .272/.340/.517 in 162 plate appearances last year before a torn tendon sheath in his wrist ended his season in May. Weeks will earn $2.75MM this year, and has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining.
Melvin, meanwhile, wouldn't discuss negotiations with Fielder, if there are any.
Lots of rainouts in Florida, so here are some links to get you through the day…
- Jayson Stark takes a look at pitching phenoms not named Stephen Strasburg. Also featured: Strasburg.
- MLB.com's Steve Gilbert looks back at the trade that sent Jose Valverde to Houston and says the D'Backs now look like winners for obtaining Chad Qualls, Juan Gutierrez and Chris Burke.
- Rickie Weeks told Colin Fly of the AP that he'll miss former teammate J.J. Hardy, who was traded for Carlos Gomez this winter (link via the Miami Herald).
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo profiles highly-touted high schooler Jameson Taillon, from his academic background to his hobbies, to his upper-90s fastball. Taillon will likely be a top pick in this year's draft.
- Top Cubs prospect Starlin Castro will start the season in Triple A no matter how good he looks in Spring Training, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail repeated to Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun that the Orioles will consider other options in case Brian Roberts isn't going to be ready on Opening Day.
- In case you're wondering, Jermaine Dye is the only remaining free agent who qualified for the batting title last year.
- Cubs manager Lou Piniella feels healthy going into the last year of his contract, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Team president Crane Kenney expects to have an "interesting conversation" with Piniella after the season.
- The Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League signed Toshihisa Nishi, according to this Sanspo report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter).
- Jason Bay says he feels more comfortable than before, now that he has a no-trade clause in his contract, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
- Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times can't think of a Dodger to successfully make a comeback like the one Eric Gagne is attempting.
- A former GM tells Baseball America that teams didn't worry about losing players out of minor league options in the past. Check out MLBTR's list of players out of minor league options here and go to the Baseball America article for Matt Eddy's explanation of options and why they matter.
- Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post suspects that the Nationals may not draft Bryce Harper with the first overall pick in this year's draft.
Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.
We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements. Yesterday's list can be found here.
- Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals. Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts. Willits' contract is worth $625K.
- Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter). Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
- Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players. In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
- Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter). The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
- The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press. MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
- Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
- The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
- Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
- Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.
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Brewers GM Doug Melvin spoke to reporters today, and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has quotes. A few highlights:
- Melvin feels that re-signing closer Trevor Hoffman early will aid the Brewers in attracting free agent starting pitchers. Melvin hopes to add two starters.
- When asked about trading Prince Fielder or Ryan Braun, Melvin responded, "I don't see that happening." Might as well close the book on those rumors.
- The Brewers view Rickie Weeks as their starting second baseman, which implies they'll let free agent Felipe Lopez leave.
- Melvin told Haudricourt it would "be very difficult" for the Brewers to keep both J.J. Hardy and Alcides Escobar. Hardy could be a great pickup given the scarcity of shortstops. Also, Haudricourt thinks Mat Gamel could be available in trade.
- Chat today, 2pm CST.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke with commissioner Bud Selig, who was adamant that the Pirates are not pocketing their profits.
- Pirates starter Zach Duke was pulled last night from an 11-1 game, one out away from a complete game, with 103 pitches thrown. Talking to Kovacevic, team president Frank Coonelly "strongly rejected" the idea that manager John Russell made the move to weaken Duke's bargaining position at the arbitration table. Joe Posnanski questions Russell's explanation of his decision.
- Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News feels that Giants managing partner Bill Neukom will retain GM Brian Sabean when that decision comes due in a week.
- Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks is strongly opposed to moving to center field, according to Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Weeks has explained his stance to GM Doug Melvin.
- Nomar Garciaparra told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle he hasn't thought about whether he'll play next year. Slusser says Nomar won't be back in Oakland, regardless.
- Reliever Doug Brocail is also undecided about 2010, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. An upcoming MRI on Brocail's shoulder will influence his decision.