Rickie Weeks just signed a $2 million deal with the Seattle Mariners who happen to already have a second baseman named Robinson Cano. The deal is a pay cut for Weeks to the tune of 82%. Ouch. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Rickie Weeks was an All Star and seemed to be one of the most dynamic players in the game. What the heck happened?
The timing of Week’s descent from All Star to mediocre was not great for the Milwaukee Brewers. They based their 2012, three-year, $31 million contract for Weeks based on his five-year run beginning in 2007 of averaging 3.12 WAR a season with good pop, high on-base, stolen base and decent fielding skills. That contract was a bust in just about every way.
Beginning in 2009, Weeks had a three-year run of scoring a 120+ wOBA a season. 2010 was a particularly productive and break out season in which Weeks compiled over 300 total bases and got on base 276 times. Both were career highs as were his home runs, RBIs and runs scored that season. He led the league in getting hit by pitches in 2010 for the second time in his career.
Weeks missed about a third of the following season of 2011 but still scored in the same ranges in the time he did play. Thus, it might have seemed reasonable for the Brewers to extend the deal they made to their second baseman. It just didn’t work out that way.
In 2012, the first year of the deal, Weeks played a full season and compiled 677 plate appearances. But his OPS dropped 90 points and his wRC+ dropped 27 points. According to the numbers, his defense also totally crapped out.
In 2010, Weeks was rated the second most valuable second baseman in baseball behind only Cano. In 2012, he was only the 20th best. But it would get worse…much worse.
Weeks started 2013 badly. He had a .615 OPS for April. It was even worse at .506 in May. He had a great June and seemed to be back to himself. But in July, he plummeted to .582. On August 8, mercifully, he was shut down for the rest of the season for a hamstring injury for which he had surgery and did not play again the rest of the season.
For 2013, in 399 plate appearances, he compiled a woeful triple slash line of: .209/.306/.357. Scooter Gennett finished out the season for the Brewers at second base and come on gangbusters (cliche alert) and was named the starting second baseman for the Brewers for 2014. Weeks was now a pretty expensive bench player.
The funny thing is, Rickie Weeks’ bat bounced back. He played 57 times at second base and compiled an .861 OPS as a starter there. He also pinch hit 56 times with less success and DHed twice. But otherwise, he was no longer in the Brewers’ plans. Add in the fact that his fielding was still abominable.
Since he played in only 104 games in 2013 and only 121 in 2014, he did not reach the totals necessary for his option for 2015 to kick in automatically. His Brewers days were over.
How are the Mariners going to use him? Obviously, they already have a VERY expensive second baseman on board. Weeks has never played a position other than second base in his entire MLB and MiLB career. Can he suddenly play the outfield? Will he be tried at third? First? It seems a rather strange signing.
Then again, if Weeks is back offensively, he is a right-handed batter and the Mariners have needed that in their lineup. Will he be the DH? It is hard to say what the M’s are thinking when signing Weeks.
It might be a good thing for Weeks to learn a new position and rebuild his value. His annual salary took a beating and his former team gave up on him. Those two things can be highly motivational. The things we do know are that Weeks might not be done as a hitter but is quite done as a viable second baseman. The Mariners could still make that work and turn this head scratching into something none of us would have thought about.