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What is Rickie Weeks Worth?

Back in March, the only sports story Wisconsinites were talking about more than the Badgers’ Final Four run was the Brewers’ second-base battle. Young Scooter Gennett, coming off a fantastic rookie cup of coffee, challenged incumbent Rickie Weeks for the starting job. After a full slate of games down in Maryvale, manager Ron Roenicke essentially decided not to decide and chose to utilize a platoon system. A quarter of the way through the season, the results have been decidedly mixed. Gennett has hardly lived up to the hype following his breakout 2013. Meanwhile Weeks has put together a decent start to the year. Yet it is unlikely that Weeks continues this success, and the Brewers should work to trade him during the season. 

To be fair, Weeks’ overall numbers look pretty solid. His 139 wRC+ ranks third among all second basemen in the majors (with at least 60 plate appearances), trailing only Chase Utley and Brian Dozier. Weeks has torched southpaws for a .500 slugging percentage, which is exactly what the Brewers wanted from the platoon system. Still, he has managed to bat .400 against righties, which is a nice and unexpected bonus.

However it is hard to imagine Weeks continuing this performance. For one thing, most of his success has only been very recent. This article would have been very different two weeks ago, as Weeks was batting just .235 with a microscopic .265 slugging percentage on May 6. It is not really accurate to say he has been having a “good season.” Rather he currently happens to be on a hot streak that skews his early season totals. Further, there is nothing substantive that makes his rebound appear sustainable. While he has struck out less often than in recent seasons, he has also walked much less. Therefore it does not appear that he has improved his batting eye. Similarly, while he is hitting more line drives than in the past, he is also hitting many more ground balls. His crazy-high 58.3% ground ball rate belies the notion that he is making better contact this season. In addition, luck seems to have played a role in the success that Weeks has had to this point. His .391 BABIP, which would be the highest of his career, reveals that his performance is likely to regress.

Weeks’ main importance to the Brewers comes from his trade value. Of course, it is way too early for the trade market to really heat up. However, given how unsustainable Weeks’ performance has been, it would benefit Milwaukee to sell high on him sooner rather than later. Further, it would be great if the Brewers were able to dump his $11 million salary. In theory the Rangers could have been a potential trade partner. Their second baseman, Jurickson Profar, was injured in Spring Training. However, given the fact that Texas’ injury-riddled rotation has dropped them to the fringe of the AL West, it’s hard to imagine them splurging to add a player like Weeks. The Yankees always figure to be aggressive on the trade market and could certainly afford Weeks. They may be interested in a deal if Brian Roberts gets hurt and if breakout star Yangervis Solarte slows down. However, pitching is currently a bigger need in the Bronx than second base. The most logical team to trade for Weeks may be Atlanta. Dan Uggla and Tyler Pastornicky are hardly a winning combination at Turner Field, and the Braves could likely afford Weeks’ salary. Either way, Weeks’ success seems unsustainable, and it makes sense for the Brewers to find someone that is willing to trade for him.