TRANSACTION: With Cory Spangenberg and Alexi Amarista both coming out of Monday night's victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates with leg injuries, the San Diego Padres are in need of a healthy body who can man second base. Jemile Weeks, who was their star of spring training in Peoria, will join the club to be that man. Spangenberg will head to the 15-day disabled list, and to make room for Weeks on the 40-man roster, reliever Buddy Baumann has been moved to the 60-day DL.
BACKGROUND: Weeks, 29, is a switch-hitter who made his big league debut in June, 2011, just three years after the Oakland Athletics made him the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft. The University of Miami product (where he teamed with Jon Jay and former Padre Yonder Alonso for a season), got off to an impressive start, hitting .303/.340/.421 in his rookie campaign and appearing ready to establish himself as the long-term answer at second base for Oakland.
But a poor 2012 campaign derailed his career, and he's collected only 63 plate appearances in the Majors since the start of the 2013 campaign, while logging time in the minors with the Orioles and Red Sox organizations.
This year, Weeks came into spring training on a minor league deal with the Padres and impressed big-time, hitting .340/.407/.585 in 53 at-bats in big league camp. He was ultimately the last roster cut when the organization decided to carry both Travis Jankowski and Rule 5 selection and Padres social media superstar, Jabari Blash, in the outfield.
In 10 games for Triple-A El Paso, Weeks has carried forward the spring production, hitting .306/.405/.500, capped by a near-miss on a cycle when our own John Conniff was on-hand to cover Monday's game.
Weeks was working as a utility option, logging innings at second, third, short and centerfield already for the Chihuahuas. But the big league club's need right now is for someone who can hold down the fort at second base. While advanced fielding metrics have not been favorable about his big league time, at the position, it's been Weeks primary position, and he's seen more than 2,800 professional innings there.
In pre-game comments on Monday, El Paso manager Rod Barajas said “He knows how to play the game. He has some big league experience and is a guy that I can rely on. Defensively, he is going to give you a good effort because he can play so many positions. His versatility and ability to get on base and make things happen can really help a team.”
Outlook: Weeks was once seen as a building block who would provide solid production. Things haven't gone that way, but as Brett Wallace proved last year, there's value in being in the right place at the right time. With the versatility Weeks offers defensively and as a switch-hitter with speed, if he produces in this narrow window, it will be hard for the club to send him back down when Spangenberg is healthy again. Even if this is only a short stay in the Majors now, we'll likely see Weeks back again before the end of the year.