According to MLB Network’s Jim Bowden, via Twitter, the Seattle Mariners have agreed to terms with veteran Rickie Weeks on a one-year deal worth $2 million, pending a physical.

Weeks, 32, has spent his entire career as a second baseman and a below-average one at that. He has produced at the plate, too, despite a career .249 batting average, thanks to good power and solid on-base skills outside his tendency to strike out at a rate of 23 percent.

Weeks was originally drafted and signed by the Milwaukee Brewers where GM Jack Zduriencik and scouting director Tom McNamara worked for years running that club’s scouting department, so the player isn’t an unfamiliar face for the Mariners in that manner.

How Weeks fits in Seattle — and how Seattle fits for Weeks — is unclear; Weeks is a right-handed hitter who has yet to play a single inning in the outfield or even third base. The idea here is that Weeks could be used as some sort of utility option, but he declined the opportunity to learn the outfield last spring, even though that was his best chance to get more playing time since Scooter Gennett took the second base job.

I imagine Weeks has changed his tune on that front, since Robinson Cano is inked in at second base for 150 games or more and the same goes for Kyle Seager at third base.

Weeks can hit some, so at $2 million, this is the kind of deal we may look back on in six months as one of the better acquisitions of the offseason. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Weeks gets acclimated to the outfield and plays almost regularly at some point in 2015. He finished last season at .274/.357/.452 in 286 plate appearances, primarily versus left-handed pitching. He’s not exactly the ideal platoon-style bat, but he will take a walk and still brings pop to the table. His .370 wOBA versus lefties is impressive and his .381 mark in 2014 suggests he’s not done producing.

Weeks runs well, though he’s not likely to swipe more than 8-12 bags, and could get 10-15 starts at second with a few shots per week in the outfield if he’s performing at the plate. I don’t foresee any true platoon — not with Weeks and Dustin Ackley in left or with Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano in center — but some semblance of a time share will show itself to some extent.

He’s been solid versus southpaws for most of his career, but has shown he can be useful versus right-handers, too, including a .351 on-base mark a year ago.

The presence of Weeks, barring injury to another option, hurts the chance James Jones makes the club, and may close out Willie Bloomquist’s career, even though he’s due $3.2 million himself. If Lloyd McClendon goes with seven relievers rather than eight, there’s room for one of the above, but not both.

The M’s roster is stronger with the acquisition of the veteran, even considering the questions about his defensive role and value. The most likely scenario for Weeks is in left field versus left-handed starters, especially since it appears Ackley is developing an actual split worth using — he posted a .259/.310/.442 mark versus right-handers in 2014. Of course, he could fit better defensively in right field with Ruggiano or Smith playing left. Weeks’ outfield skills are a blank canvas right now. I’d advise getting him used to right since Smith has played a lot more left field and he and Ruggiano can cover more ground in spacious left field at Safeco.

It’s a bit of an odd landing spot for Weeks, since there is no path for him to play second base and he’s refused to learn the outfield as recent as 10 months ago, and there’s no guarantee he’ll receive more than 300 or so plate appearances yet again.

The Angels, who traded Howie Kendrick to the Los Angeles Dodgers, seemed like a better fit as the Halos boast Johnny Giavotella and Josh Rutledge as the top options at second base. The Braves are without a proven answer at second, too, unless they plan to use Alberto Callaspo there, despite his own gross deficiencies with the glove.

Weeks, who was worth 1.2 fWAR last season, is a solid addition for Seattle. There’s virtually no downside — $2 million is nothing, Weeks isn’t blocking a younger player, nor is he a significant injury risk in his expected role.

The interesting dynamic here is the limited time Weeks has to figure out the outfield. Such a transition generally takes longer than a few months, but his athleticism should allow him to be passable almost immediately, and certainly by the time Opening Day arrives.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.

11 Comments

  1. I think the idea of Weeks being the utility guy is great, but wether or not he can perform as such is still a little up in the air. Dude hasn’t played anything other than 2B in the majors and OF in college. He’s athletic so I don’t think he’ll have a problem, and Andy Van Slyke managed to turn Ackley into a pretty good left fielder so I’m not concerned about it. Weeks is right-handed, and at $2 million you can’t go wrong!

    Definitely a candidate for one of the best late signings of the winter.

  2. Bloomquist most likely is done as a Mariner. Weeks is an upgrade with a platoon with Ackley. 2 platoons are very rare to have in the OF. But the M’s have maybe one of the best in baseball in RF and LF. Cruz is wanting to play in the OF. But odds are he is going to DH only as a Mariner.

  3. Who cares aboutBloomquist. Rickie Weeks can do something really important that Bloomquist can’t: hit.

    He’ll be able to fill in at LF, RF, 1B, 2B, and perhaps 3B, and he kills LHP. He will probably be our best player off the bench.

    This is the best value signing of the offseason. Nice work Jack!

    …..now go sign some Cubanos!

  4. I would bet Bloomquist is not responding well and we don’t see him again. A quick Google shows athelets who never really made it back after microfracture surgery like Penny Hardaway and Chris Webber, though many have made it back also. I don’t know if this is the case, but it appears it could be.

  5. Cruz will play more RF than people expect. Cano will be perfect to partially rest on those days in the DH spot. Weeks will play 2B, then.

    The biggest question with Willie “All World” Bloomquist is whether the tight M’s are prepared to eat his $3.2MM salary in 2015 assuming he healthy, yet now ineffective in his utility role.

    I would love to see Nelson Cruz learn to play 1B as the backup option to Logan Morrison. This move would allow far more roster flexibility for this team that will pay off over the next four years. Instead, most observers simply assume that Cruz will be forced to get used to playing DH 90% of the time. A fully engaged Nelson Cruz is far more valuable to the M’s at this juncture than a happy Ackley, Smith, Ruggliano, Weeks, Bloomquist, or loser of the SS battle. I see Cruz in the field, in one position or another, at least 40% of the time.

  6. Thanks for the article, Jason. When I saw the headline on MLBTR rumors a few minutes ago, my reaction was “What the… ?” I suppose this does make some sense, and could be a low-risk high-reward kind of deal if the guy can prove useful. Let’s hope it works out well for all.

  7. As Jason said, $2M is nothing. This might simply be insurance if Bloomquist isn’t ready and Miller is the starting SS. They could cut Weeks before the season starts if they don’t feel he can play OF; we don’t need a backup 2B. Or likewise they could cut/trade Bloomquist and eat the $3M.

  8. This signing only makes sense if Bloomquist is off the roster. Health wise I bet he isn’t even close, but come spring we will find out. This likely also means the loser of the SS battle goes to AAA. Jason, does this move make it harder for Montero to make the club? Lots of options here, which is always a good thing.

  9. Willie only starts the year on the DL if he’s still hurt at the time. Can’t “hide” him on the DL or in AAA.

    I’d guess the bench is Sucre, Weeks, Taylor, Ruggiano with a 7-man pen. Taylor has to stay over the extra reliever. Can’t be without a second option at SS.

  10. Not sure why Weeks would ever be used at 1B. If you want him in lineup, start him ahead of Ackley.

  11. Didn’t see this one coming, but Weeks could see some playing time at 1B (Morrison) and LF (Ackley) and is a solid bat off the bench.

    Does WFB start the season on the DL?

    Does the team still carry a backup SS?

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