With Corey Hart locked up to a long-term deal and Prince Fielder determined to test the free agent market, it seems pretty clear that Rickie Weeks is the next guy to be targeted for a contract extension. Now that Weeks has a new agent, those talks can resume again, but it looks like he isn’t interested in talking contract until the offseason.
This makes sense for both sides.
For Weeks, it gives him a chance to further improve his numbers and make a case for more money. For the Brewers, they can see if he can actually finish a full season and factor that into their eventual offer. While this news might make some nervous, I’ll take it as a good sign that Rickie even wants to talk about a deal in the first place. That’s already further along the process than the Brewers have ever gotten with Fielder.
There’s some concern that waiting until the offseason will cause Weeks’ asking price to go up, and while it makes sense that he’d be looking at someone like Dan Uggla (who wants big money this winter) as a player comp, I wouldn’t worry about Weeks breaking the bank and costing the Brewers too much money.
Historically, top-tier second basemen just don’t make as much as other positions. Take a look at the highest paid second basemen of all time, based on average annual salary (via Cot’s Contracts):
Chase Utley, 2007-2013: $12,142,857
Brian Roberts, 2010-2013: $10,000,000
Robinson Cano, 2008-2011: $7,500,000
Brian Roberts, 2008-2009: $7,150,000
Dustin Pedroia, 2009-2014: $6,750,000
Brandon Phillips, 2008-2011: $6,750,000
Orlando Hudson, 2008: $6,250,000
Luis Castillo, 2008-2011: $6,250,000
Kaz Matsui, 2008-2010: $5,500,000
Freddy Sanchez, 2008-2009: $5,500,000
Mark Ellis, 2009-2010: $5,500,000
Placido Polanco, 2006-2009: $4,600,000
That’s almost mind-blowing. Polanco makes it on the list by earning just a hair over $4.5 million. Weeks is making $2.75 million this year, and if you don’t think he’s worth $4.5 million a year, I’ll politely say you’re crazy. He’s easily worth that, which is why he (and Uggla) will probably be looking for something closer to Robinson Cano to Brian Roberts money.
With Weeks’ injury history, I can’t see the Brewers making that kind of offer…yet. I think the ideal solution would be for Weeks to sign a three-year deal this winter. A deal like that would give him a nice raise in what should be his last year of arbitration and a level of financial security in case he does get hurt again. That deal would buy out two years of free agency, but Weeks would still only be finishing his age 30 season by the time he hits free agency and could still get that big five-year deal if he keeps performing.
When Hart signed his deal, there was some concern that he wouldn’t be able to live up to his new salary. Unless Weeks suddenly gets Utley money, I don’t see that being the case. I’d be comfortable with just about any deal Doug Melvin and Rickie’s new representation can put together. Hopefully they feel that way, too, and it won’t take long for a deal to get done this offseason.