Rickie Weeks

Rickie Weeks and the Brewers agree to $50 million extension

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UPDATE: Rosenthal now says it’s a five-year deal worth $50 million, but the Brewers can void the fifth year if Weeks “is not an everyday player in 2013 and 2014.” That provision eliminates some of the health-related risks, but that’s still a huge investment in player who’s provided star-level value just once in five seasons.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported yesterday that Rickie Weeks and the Brewers were working on a contract extension for at least three and as many as five years, and now Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the two sides have agreed to a four-year deal with a team option for 2015.

No word yet on the money, but Haudricourt guesses it “would well exceed $30 million.” Weeks had been seeking $7.2 million in his third and final season of arbitration eligibility while the Brewers countered at $4.75 million. They had a hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

Weeks is coming off a career-year that saw him hit .269 with 29 homers, 112 runs, and an .830 OPS. He also stayed totally healthy for the first time, playing 160 games after averaging just 95 games in his first five seasons. Given his injury history committing to Weeks long term is a sizable risk for the Brewers, but he’ll be just 31 years old in the fourth season of the deal and when healthy he’s among the best-hitting second basemen in baseball. Plus, this allows them to avoid letting Weeks walk as a free agent along with Prince Fielder next offseason.

The White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle’s number this June

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox waves to the crowd after being tasken out of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.

Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:

Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.

He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.