There were varying reports about the specifics of Rickie Weeks’ contract extension with Milwaukee, but now the Brewers have announced the details.
It’s officially a four-year contract worth $38.5 million, but the deal also includes an $11.5 million option for 2015 that vests if Weeks has 600 plate appearances in 2014 or a total of 1,200 plate appearances between 2013 and 2014.
In other words, if he stays healthy and productive for the entire contract it’s a five-year, $50 million deal and if not it’s a four-year, $38.5 million deal. And since Weeks has logged 600 plate appearances just once in six seasons, the latter is definitely more likely.
Weeks likely would have settled for around $6 million in his third and final season of arbitration eligibility, so the Brewers are essentially buying out his first three years of free agency for about $32.5 million. If he plays like he did in 2010–hitting .269 with 29 homers, 112 runs, and an .830 OPS that ranked fifth among all second basemen–then they’re getting a bargain. However, he averaged just 95 games per season from 2005-2009, including missing all but 37 games with a wrist injury in 2009, and has a .784 career OPS.
For comparison Dan Uggla–who was one of the four second basemen with a higher OPS than Weeks last season but is also three years older–recently signed a five-year, $62 million extension with the Braves that covered his final season of arbitration and first four years of free agency. I’d rather have Weeks for $38.5 million over four years or $50 million over five years than Uggla for $62 million over five years, so it’s certainly a worthwhile gamble by Milwaukee.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”