Day 2 brings Brewers productive Weeks talks

Day 2 brings Brewers productive Weeks talks

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Brewers officials had what they considered a productive sit-down with the agent for second baseman Rickie Weeks on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings and remain cautiously optimistic about reaching a contract extension.

General manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash met with Greg Genske, the agent picked by Weeks in September after his former representative, Lon Babby, left the business to be president of the NBA's Phoenix Suns.

"We had a productive meeting and we have agreed to continue to talk," Ash said.

Asked whether contract proposals had been exchanged, Ash said, "I think we're going to leave it at: We have reason to continue to talk."

Weeks is arbitration-eligible this winter after earning $2.75 million last year. He will be a free agent after the 2011 season.

The Brewers and Genske have two options. Either come to an agreement on a multi-year extension that would buy out one or some of Weeks' free-agent seasons -- something the club has already done with left fielder Ryan Braun, right fielder Corey Hart and No. 1 starter Yovani Gallardo -- or settle for a one-year contract to avoid arbitration.

The Brewers prefer the long-term option, but talks with Genske are complicated by the difficulty in valuing Weeks, the second overall pick in the 2003 Draft. On one hand, he's coming off the finest season of his career, having set career highs in runs (112), hits (175), doubles (32), home runs (29), RBIs (83) and hit by pitches (25). Weeks was healthy all year and broke Paul Molitor's 19-year-old franchise record for plate appearances.

But before that, Weeks' career had been marred by injuries.

He was promoted to the Majors for good midway through the 2005 season and immediately ran into trouble with injuries. Weeks had surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb at the end of the season, and had another procedure in 2006 to repair a tendon in his right wrist. He spent a bit less than three weeks on the disabled list in 2007 with tendinitis in that wrist as scar tissue broke up. He injured his left knee during the 2008 National League Division Series and needed surgery to repair his meniscus. And in 2009, he was lost for the season on May 17 to a left wrist injury that needed yet another surgery, the same procedure Weeks underwent nearly three years earlier on the other hand.

In 2010, Weeks finally stayed healthy for a Major League-best 754 plate appearances and proved one of baseball's best offensive second basemen.

It makes finding a "comp" for Weeks -- a comparable player for valuation purposes -- somewhat complicated.

"He is [tough] because of his capabilities, what he did last year, he hasn't been able to do on a consistent basis because of injury," Ash said. "It's an interesting situation. ...

"It's a different discussion if it's a one-year discussion as an arbitration player versus a multi-year discussion. Arbitration is clearly, 'What have you done to date?' Free agency obviously is, 'What do you think the guy is worth going forward?'"

Genske has not responded to requests for comment since becoming Weeks' representative.

While conversations with Weeks continue, the Brewers also worked Tuesday to find one more pitcher for a starting rotation that got a boost on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings with the formal addition of right-hander Shaun Marcum from Toronto. Melvin discounted the chances that the Brewers will bite on any of the pitchers coming off injuries, a list that includes some known names like Jeff Francis, Brandon Webb, Chris Young, Rich Harden and Brad Penny.

The Brewers have been linked to Francis this winter, but on Tuesday Melvin said, "I haven't even called his guy." Ditto for Webb, though the Brewers scouted Webb in the instructional league.

"I think some of those guys have a chance of bouncing back, but how many of them have?" Melvin asked. "There may be a point where we get involved later on. ... I'm not saying we won't go back that path, but we're not focusing on it now."

Melvin would prefer a pitcher without the immediate injury past, and didn't rule out looking at his unproven, in-house options. He'd like prospects Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta and Amaury Rivas to report to Spring Training aiming for a spot in the Opening Day rotation. Jeremy Jeffress is more likely ticketed for relief.

The Brewers plan to meet Wednesday or Thursday with Michael Moye, the agent for left-hander Chris Capuano. The Brewers have already extended Capuano an offer to return in 2011.

But Melvin is also looking at trades. The Brewers have had contact this week with two teams in a position to trade young pitchers -- Atlanta and Baltimore -- but Melvin downplayed those talks. The Orioles have already traded away two pitching prospects to get third baseman Mark Reynolds from Arizona, lessening the chances of a deal with Milwaukee. Talks between the Brewers and Braves have not gone very far.

"We've had talks with them, but it doesn't seem to be a fit for us," Melvin said. "I'm not sure they have guys that they're really pushing to move, other than [Kenshin Kawakami]."

The Braves are willing to assume a large part of the $6.67 million owed Kawakami next season in the final year of his contract. Melvin said he "couldn't say" whether he was interested in the right-hander.

"We don't have anything ongoing with [the Braves]," Melvin said.

The Chicago Tribune cited sources in reporting the Brewers had asked the Rays about right-hander Matt Garza, who earned $3.35 million during a 2010 season that included 15 wins, a 3.91 ERA and a July 26 no-hitter against the Tigers. He's arbitration-eligible for three more seasons.

Garza would fetch a high price, but that's nothing new for Melvin this winter. He's not surprised that other teams are hanging tightly to their pitching.

"Teams aren't motivated to move the pitchers," Melvin said. "For them to move them, I have to overwhelm them with something. Teams don't have excess pitching."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.