The Milwaukee Brewers made official their decisions on two longtime members of the organization Friday, exercising the 2015 club option on right-hander Yovani Gallardo and declining the club option on second baseman Rickie Weeks.
Gallardo, who will make $13 million in 2015, went 8-11 with a 3.52 ERA in 32 starts for the Brewers last season. The right-hander is 89-64 with a 3.69 ERA over 214 games and 211 starts in eight seasons in Milwaukee.
The 28-year-old has posted an ERA under 4.00 in six of the last seven seasons, tossing at least 180 innings and making 30 starts in all seven of those campaigns.
Milwaukee’s second-round pick in the 2004 amateur draft out of Trimble Technical High School in Fort Worth, Texas, Gallardo became the franchise’s all-time leader in strikeouts (1,226) during the 2014 season.
With Gallardo back in the fold, the Brewers have six starting pitchers who made at least 10 starts last season returning. Gallardo is expected join Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse and Wily Peralta in the starting rotation, with Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson likely competing for the fifth spot.
The longest-tenured member of the organization, Weeks had an $11.5 million option for 2015 that would have vested if he would have accumulated 1,200 plate appearances in 2013 and 2014 or 600 plate appearances in 2014 alone.
Weeks fell well short of those numbers, as he fell into a platoon at second base with Scooter Gennett. Because of that, the Brewers were able to decline the option without a buyout.
The 31-year-old hit .274 with eight home runs and 29 RBI in 286 plate appearances over 121 games for Milwaukee in 2014. Weeks started almost exclusively against left-handed pitchers, while Gennett played against right-handers.
Weeks, the No. 2-overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft out of Southern University, has a .249 batting average with 148 home runs and 430 RBI in 11 mostly injury-plagued seasons with the Brewers.
His best season with the Brewers came in 2011 when he hit .278 with 17 home runs and 39 RBI in the first half of the season and was voted as the National League’s starter at second base for the All-Star game.
On July 27 of that season, Weeks suffered a severe left ankle sprain and was sidelined until Sept. 10.
Weeks became the 12th player in franchise history with 1,000 hits in September. With his time in Milwaukee likely over, Weeks will finish in the franchise’s top 10 in games played, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, total bases, doubles, triples, walks, strikeouts, stolen bases, times hit by pitch and extra-base hits.
"That’s not my decision," Weeks said on a potential return following the season finale. "Yes and no, I guess. But for the most part, teams go one way. I don’t think I’m going to be here next year. It’s just time for me to just move forward with my life.
"I mean, I hate to say this, but I’m the type of person that keeps looking forward. There’s nothing bad about the city or anything like that. That’s just the way I work, really. Obviously very grateful for the opportunities I had to play here all this time and the fan support and things like that. It’s all a great thing."
Later Friday, the Brewers announced they’ve exercised their half of the 2015 mutual option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
Ramirez now has three days to decide whether to accept or decline his portion of the $14 million option. If he declines, Ramirez would become a free agent. At 36 years old, whether Ramirez accepts or declines could be dependent on if he wants to pursue a multi-year contract or not.
The Brewers certainly could pursue Ramirez on a multi-year deal if he declines the option, or they could extend a qualifying offer to the veteran third baseman. The qualifying offer for next season is a one-year, $15.3 million deal that includes with draft pick compensation for Milwaukee if Ramirez were to opt to sign elsewhere. If Ramirez would decline the qualifying offer, a team would need to forfeit its highest draft pick (top-10 protected) in order to sign him.
Although it was a down year for his standards, Ramirez still hit .285 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI for the Brewers in 2014. Milwaukee has no real viable in-house replacement at third base, making it easy to see why the Brewers want Ramirez back in 2015.
Jason Rogers shifted over from first base to third base at Triple-A Nashville last season, while the Brewers recently claimed first baseman/third baseman Luis Jimenez off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.