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.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves