SEATTLE — The road that led free-agent second baseman Rickie Weeks to signing a one-year deal Friday with the Mariners started with what initially seemed an insurmountable hurdle.
Weeks really didn’t want to change positions after playing nowhere else in his 12 professional seasons…and the Mariners already had the game’s preeminent second baseman in Robinson Cano.
But once the Brewers cut Weeks loose in late October by not picking up an $11.5 million option for this season, he surveyed the market — and his perspective changed.
“Early on,” he said, “there was still the possibility of me playing second base for somebody. But teams were thinking about me playing other positions, and I just opened up to it, really.”
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That brought the Mariners into the picture. The two sides reached agreement Wednesday on a $2 million deal that also includes $2 million in possible performance bonuses.
The deal became official when Weeks, 32, passed a routine physical, and the Mariners cleared space on their 40-man roster by designating lefty reliever Edgar Olmos for assignment.
“Rickie is a talented player who will be used at multiple positions,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “His toughness, right-handed bat and major-league experience are desirable factors for our 2015 ballclub.
“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.”
Olmos, 24, projected as a bullpen candidate after coming to the Mariners in a Nov. 20 waiver claim from Miami. He was 3-3 with a 4.06 ERA last season in 51 games at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.
While manager Lloyd McClendon prefers to have at least two lefty relievers, the Mariners already had Lucas Luetge as a candidate to replace departed free-agent Joe Beimel alongside Charlie Furbush.
The Mariners added two more candidates by selecting David Rollins from Houston in the Rule 5 Draft and, on Thursday, signing veteran Rafael Perez to a minor-league deal.
By designating Olmos for assignment, the Mariners have 10 days to trade him, release him or place him on waivers.
Zduriencik was the Brewers’ scouting director when they selected Weeks with the second overall pick in the 2003 draft and now envisions a player who will log time in the outfield and all infield spots.
“Probably not as much as shortstop,” Zduriencik said. “We have Willie (Bloomquist) to do that (as a backup) and two guys (Brad Miller and Chris Taylor) competing for jobs.
“I think (Weeks) will get a chance at first base. I do think the right-handed bat is important. I think Rickie will be given the chance to be a versatile player for us.”
Weeks insists he’s ready for the challenge after seeing his playing time cut substantially last year despite exceeding careers norms by batting .274 with a .357 on-base percentage and a .452 slugging percentage.
“I’ll just say,” Weeks declared, “for the playing time I had last year, I did pretty decent, I think. A couple of years before that was one of my best years.
“I don’t know what people think but, for myself, I know I can play better. I showed what I can do last year for the time I did play. I’m very hungry. I play hard baseball. I’m just very eager to get out there.”
So, yes, he sees the Mariners as a good fit.
“The first thing, as you get up in your career, you want to win,” Weeks said. “The ultimate goal for everyone coming in is you want to win a World Series. That’s the first thing you look at. That’s the first thing I looked at.
“This team has made strides, and they’ve built a pretty good winning team. That’s one of the main reasons why I chose to come to Seattle.”