Weeks signing official; he’ll fill utility role
Rickie Weeks doesn’t figure to play a lot of second base for the Mariners, but that didn’t stop the free agent infielder from signing a one-year deal with Seattle on Thursday as he starts a new chapter in his baseball career.
Weeks played strictly second base in 11 seasons with the Brewers, but figures to compete more as a utility player on a Mariners team that has Robinson Cano at second. The 32-year-old free agent agreed to terms on Wednesday, but the contract wasn’t finalized until he passed a physical exam on Friday.
“Rickie is a talented player who will be used at multiple positions,” said Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik. “His toughness, right-handed bat and Major League experience are desirable factors for our 2015 ball club. We look forward to Rickie’s contributions this season and see him as a very nice fit, complementing the pieces we already have in place.”
The deal will pay $2 million in base salary, with another potential $2 million in incentives.
Left-handed reliever Edgar Olmos was designated for assignment to open a spot on Seattle’s 40-man roster. Olmos was acquired by the Mariners off waivers from the Marlins in November.
Zduriencik, who was the Brewers scouting director in 2003 when Milwaukee selected Weeks with the second overall pick in the Draft, has been looking to add right-handed bats to a club looking to bolster its offense and balance a team that finished one game shy of an American League Wild Card spot in 2014.
Weeks posted a .274/.357/.452 slash line with 19 doubles, eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 252 at-bats with Milwaukee last year while splitting time at second base with Scooter Gennett. He hit 29 home runs and 83 RBIs in 2010, was a National League All-Star and Home Run Derby participant in 2011 and carries a career .249 average with a .771 OPS.
Weeks has a career .385 on-base percentage and .834 OPS against left-handed pitchers and could work into the mix as a right-handed option in left field alongside Dustin Ackley or at first base with Logan Morrison, while also capable of filling in as needed for Cano at second or Nelson Cruz at designated hitter. Seattle was last in the AL in on-base percentage (.300) and OPS (.676) last season.
The Brewers asked Weeks to play some outfield last year, but he declined at that time and wound up starting just 51 games in the final season of a four-year, $38 million contract. Milwaukee then declined an $11.5 million option for 2015 and he remained unsigned until Friday, one week before Seattle’s pitchers and catchers will report to Peoria, Ariz., for the start of camp.