Brewers' Weeks shoots down outfield move

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While the subject had died down during the last couple of years, the idea of putting Rickie Weeks in the outfield is again being kicked around in Milwaukee, this time because of Felipe Lopez’s stellar performance since arriving in a July trade.
Not surprisingly, Weeks is still completely against a possible move to center field.
“I would never go out there,” Weeks said. “I’ve talked to (general manager) Doug (Melvin) about it and it’s squashed, and that’s all that matters.”
Melvin, for the record, said he talked to Weeks’ agent about the possibility recently, though not the player.
“It’s never been put forward to him as, ‘Would you do this?'” Melvin said. “I talked to him about playing the outfield in general. He played the outfield in high school and in college, but he moved (to second) in college.”
Three years ago, the idea made plenty of sense. Weeks was a terrible second baseman when he entered the league. He was about as error-prone as anyone at the position, and while his outstanding speed should have led to great range, his poor footwork most nullified it.
Weeks, though, has gotten a whole lot better, to the point that UZR has rated him as almost exactly average over the last three years. I’d put him a little below, mostly because of some lingering awkwardness when turning the double play, but he is perfectly acceptable.
Could he be above average in center field? Possibly, though it’d surely take time. Weeks still has well above average speed, though injuries have taken a bit of a toll there. Since the learning curve would be steep, the Brewers would almost surely be better off with Weeks at second and Mike Cameron in center next year than with Lopez at second in center.
Still, a switch might still pay off for the long haul. Second basemen have a long and proud tradition of fading in their early-30s. Those blind double-play turns make the position more dangerous to play than any besides catcher, and Weeks has had big problems staying healthy. It’s quite likely that he’d have a longer career in center than at second and earn more money in the process.
The Brewers certainly will go along with his wishes. They’ll probably let Lopez go this winter and attempt to re-sign Cameron for a year or two. The idea of trading Weeks, who is a free agent after 2011, and re-signing Lopez figures to be broached. However, Lopez will want significantly more than the $3.5 million or so that Weeks figures to make in arbitration and it seems unlikely that Weeks will bring back a quality starting pitcher when he’s coming off wrist surgery.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.