If the Milwaukee Brewers are to stay on top in a National League Central race that gets closer by the day, one thing has to happen now: Scooter Gennett has to play second base on a regular basis, and Rickie Weeks has to go elsewhere, whether it is to a new position or off the Brewers’ roster altogether.
This is nothing personal. Weeks has been an integral part of the Brewers’ renaissance in the last several years, including a memorable run to the 2011 National League Championship Series. He’s still hitting for decent average.
So why send Weeks elsewhere? It has to do with dollars and cents and keeping Milwaukee’s roster fresh for the long haul.
Weeks is hitting .253 with nine doubles and three home runs heading into the All-Star break, and those numbers are alright but nothing special. Consider that Weeks scored 112 runs as recently as 2010, but he only has 21 runs at the break. The three homers are a puny amount compared to the 21 he hit in 2012 and the 29 he slammed in 2010, but offense is down across the board.
Gennett has a .302 average and seven homers in his first full season of duty. He played 69 games a year ago upon a call-up from the minors. The only thing keeping this from being a full-time role at second is Weeks’ ability to hit left-handed pitching. Still, it is telling that Gennett still plays elsewhere in the field when Weeks is at second base.
So what is this about? Money.
The Brewers’ payroll stood at $107 million entering the 2014 season, which ranked 13th among all clubs. Milwaukee and the St. Louis Cardinals have comparable payrolls, about $5 million less than the Cincinnati Reds within the NL Central.
Of that money, Weeks makes $12 million and Gennett makes $504,000. Gennett still has arbitration years ahead of him. Trading Weeks to another team in need of a second baseman would free up some salary for future years, but it could also give the Brewers the tools to sharpen areas of the roster that need help. Maybe Milwaukee needs another starting pitcher.
Dealing away Weeks gives the Brewers a bit of flexibility. The Brewers have an $11.5 million option for Weeks in 2015 that includes a $1 million buyout. Guess who’s getting a million dollars in the offseason?
The team could keep Weeks around and have minimal production, or they can trade Weeks and fill some missing parts at a lower cost. Weeks’ time with the Brewers is up.