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Friday, January 28, 2011

Brewers-Weeks Contract Talks: How Much is Rickie Worth?

The Brewers say they're making "slow and steady progress" on contract negotiations with Rickie Weeks and Shaun Marcum. With regard to Weeks they initially tried to work out a multi-year contract extension, but shifted gear to focus on a single-year deal when the two sides exchanged figures and realized how far apart they were in Weeks' expected salary for 2011. Weeks filed for $7.2 million while the Brewers filed for $4.85 million. Weeks made $2.345 million in 2010. This begs the question: how much is Rickie Weeks worth, this year and in years to come?

One name that often comes up when discussing Weeks' contract negotiations is former Florida slugger, second baseman Dan Uggla (traded to Atlanta and signed to a multi-year deal this winter). Both have been in the big leagues full time for five seasons, and both put up similar numbers in 2010, though Uggla gets the edge (however slight) in nearly every offensive category that matters. Uggla made $7.8 million in 2010 and will make $9 million in 2011. So, surely the Brewers should cave and pay Weeks close to the $7.2 he asked for, right?

Wrong. A single season is not enough to judge a player's worth. Multiple seasons must be taken into account. In his five seasons, Uggla has played in no less than 146 games and in four of those seasons he played in more than 154 games. He failed to hit 30 home runs in a season only once (27 in 2006) and has hit 90 or more RBI in four of his five seasons.

How does Weeks compare to these stats? In five seasons Weeks has repeatedly been sidelined by injury, failing to play in more than 100 games in two of those seasons. He has played in more than 130 games in a season and hit more than 20 home runs only once, in 2010 when he played in 160 games and hit 29 home runs. Until 2010 when he hit 83 RBI he had never knocked in more than 46 in a season. Granted, his numbers here should be lower than Uggla's because Weeks usually bats leadoff, but his numbers sit significantly lower than Uggla's for their careers.

Weeks had an outstanding season in 2010. He plays hard and is one tough fella. He deserves a raise, but the rest of his career falls short of a $7 million man. Maybe he finally figured out how to stay healthy over the course of a 162 game season. Still, his history of wrist injuries does not bode well, even if he's learned how to take better care of himself. The Brewers should pay Weeks between $5 and $6 million for 2011. If he produces in 2011 similarly to 2010 he will likely make $7-$8 million in 2012. Unfortunately, with multi-year contract talks between Weeks and the Brewers shelved for the time being, it's looking more and more likely that he'll make that money in a different uniform.

1 comment:

  1. Update: Today at "Brewers On Deck" Weeks said that he does not want negotiations on a multi-year extension with the Brewers to take part once Spring Training begins. He told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Setinel that "Once I get to Spring Training, I want to focus on baseball." Before a multi-year deal can be worked out, of course, the two sides need to agree on Weeks' 2011 salary. With Spring Training only about two weeks away, it again seems more likely that Weeks will not play for the Brewers in 2012.