McGehee Extension a Bad Idea

Right now, Casey McGehee is the only player on the Brewers’ 40-man roster without a contract. According to Tom Haudricourt, that may not be the case for long — the Brewers and McGehee are reportedly working on a multi-year contract. And you thought the Brewers were done locking players up to longterm deals once Rickie Weeks signed on the dotted line.

It was easy to get behind a Weeks extension. The talent has always been evident, but he had problems staying on the field. Because of that, Weeks was actually more affordable for the Brewers than he should have been considering his talent level. Provided Weeks can stay healthy, he should (rather easily) live up to the contract.

It’s much harder to get behind a McGehee extension of any kind.

McGehee has surprised people by putting up back-to-back good seasons, but it seems clear to most that he’s at his ceiling. He’s 28 years old and still a pre-arby player. Since coming to Milwaukee, he has had a history of knee problems, and his limited mobility at third base makes him a prime candidate to move over to first base once Prince Fielder moves on. I’m probably one of McGehee’s harshest critics when it comes to his defense at third, but his already-bad range is only going to get worse with age (and this year, he won’t have Alcides Escobar to his left to help cover some ground). The Brewers hold his rights through the 2014 season, when he’ll be finishing his age 31 season.

Quite simply, this is someone with whom you go year-to-year…not negotiate an extension.

The main reason to even talk about an extension — cost certainty — could also be the main reason to avoid one. Yes, the Brewers could end up saving money in the long run, just like they could with the Rickie Weeks deal (and like they have with Ryan Braun). But considering age and history, it seems much more likely that the Brewers could be locking themselves into paying him more than he’ll be worth in 2014 — and that’s not even taking into consideration any free agency years that may be bought out. Unlike Weeks, he’s not going to be making eight figures a year in any deal, but it’s still money that could be better spent elsewhere. Is McGehee for $6-8 million a year a smart investment?

It’s clear that the Brewers appreciate what McGehee has done, but perhaps even more clear now are the team’s feelings on Mat Gamel. They’ve already essentially given up on keeping him at third base. If the Brewers lock up McGehee and keep him at third, it’s first base or bust for Gamel. Given the fact that he’s again hurt during Spring Training, it appears he’s headed towards “bust.”

Perhaps I’m just jaded from the contracts handed out to guys like Brady Clark or Derrick Turnbow — other guys who were picked up off the scrap heap and compensated very well for one or two years’ worth of solid production. Those deals weren’t franchise-crippling, either, but the players were most definitely overpaid. An extension for McGehee could lead the Brewers down that path again.

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