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Weeks, Brewers Still Negotiating

#Brewers asst GM Gord Ash on Weeks multi-year talks: “We’re making progress. We’re not done yet. We’re inching our way.”

–Ken Rosenthal, via Twitter

It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it is something when it comes to the Rickie Weeks negotiations. Last week it sounded like both sides decided to shut out the media in an attempt to get something done, so if we’re hearing something now, perhaps it’s a good sign — especially with Ash sounding much more civil publicly than he has in the past.

This Spring Training deadline isn’t going to get the attention that Albertageddon is getting from the national media (and it shouldn’t), but keeping Rickie Weeks will be necessary if the team plans on contending past this season. As I’ve said before, the Brewers can withstand losing Prince Fielder after this year. They can’t stay in contention if they lose both Fielder and Weeks. Weeks has at least shown a willingness to stay. It’s a deal that quite simply needs to happen, and it’s almost unbelievable that it’s taking this long to settle on a deal.

Weeks’ arbitration hearing is scheduled for Thursday. As far as we know, the Brewers are still simultaneously negotiating a one-year deal to avoid arby and amultiyear contract, and that makes sense. The two sides could conceivably agree on a salary for the first year of that new contract, avoid arbitration by signing a one-year deal, and continue negotiating future years until Weeks reports to camp next week.

Something of note: Jon Heyman reports that Kelly Johnson reached a settlement for $5.85 million with the Diamondbacks, and guesses that this is another comp that could benefit Weeks in these negotiations. I’m not sure how much that will help, considering that’s still below the midpoint between the Brewers’ arbitration number and the figure Weeks submitted. I’d be surprised if he’s not making somewhere in the $6 million range in 2011.

Update: Rosenthal updated his report to say that if a deal with Weeks gets done, it’ll likely be between 3 and 5 years — meaning at least two years of free agency are being bought out, with as many as four a possibility. No wonder negotiations are taking so long. That’s one hell of a commitment. Is it wise, though? I’ll have something on that soon, most likely Wednesday morning.