Jered Weaver Rumors

Clayton Kershaw Nears Arbitration Payday

Clayton Kershaw has a considerable amount in common with the ace of the Dodgers’ American League counterpart. Like Jered Weaver, Kershaw blazed through the minor leagues after going early in the first round of the draft. Both struck out more than a batter per inning last year (9.3 K/9) and should start for their respective teams on Opening Day.

Kershaw

If all goes well for Kershaw this year, he’ll follow Weaver’s career path in one other respect. The Dodgers left-hander could push his 2012 salary past the $4MM mark, a rarity for first time arbitration eligible starters. 

Weaver made $4.265MM last year, when he led MLB in strikeouts in his first season of arbitration eligibility. Kershaw, who is two years behind Weaver in the arbitration process, could set himself up for a similarly impressive contract by continuing to pitch well this year in his final pre-arbitration season.

Weaver’s numbers through his first two-plus years resemble Kershaw’s current numbers. Weaver had more wins (35 vs. 26) and fewer losses (19 vs. 23) and walks (132 vs. 224) than Kershaw has now. However, Kershaw has a better ERA (3.17 vs. 3.71), more innings (483 vs. 460 2/3) and strikeouts (497 vs. 372) and fewer hits allowed (388 vs. 445) than Weaver.

Kershaw already compares favorably to some starting pitchers in the class ahead of him, those who were arbitration eligible for the first time this past offseason. His career stats will help him, but they won’t be enough to match Weaver’s 2010 salary. 

Kershaw needs a platform year like the one Weaver had in his final pre-arbitration season. Back in 2009, Weaver went 16-8 with a 3.75 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 211 innings, setting himself up for $4MM-plus in arbitration.

There are no guarantees for Kershaw, though he’s better-positioned than most of the other starters who will go to arbitration for the first time after 2011. But if he continues to stay healthy and pitch like a number one starter in 2011 it’s possible that the 23-year-old will match Weaver’s $4.265MM mark in 2012 and set himself up for more money through arbitration in 2013 and 2014.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


Weaver Remains Open To Long-Term Deal

Jered Weaver told Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that he remains open to extension talks with the Angels, who beat him in arbitration last week. The Halos didn’t make progress on a deal with agent Scott Boras, but the sides could pick up talks after the season.

"From my understanding, it didn't go anywhere," Weaver said. "I'm open to it. I would love to play with the Angels for a long time, and if we can get something done, we will. But I don't want it hanging over my head through the season."

Weaver made $4.625MM last year, when he led the majors in strikeouts. He will earn $7.365MM in 2011, instead of the $8.8MM salary he asked for and won’t hit free agency until after 2012. Arbitration hearings can create or amplify tension between teams and players, but Weaver says he has a “thick skin” and that the Angels weren’t too harsh during the hearing.

"It was kind of fun," Weaver said. "It wasn't like sitting in math class where I wasn't paying attention. It was interesting … You wish you didn't have to do it, but this game has become very business-oriented."

Weaver, 28, posted a 3.01 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 224 1/3 innings last year, making the All-Star team and finishing fifth in Cy Young balloting.


Verducci On Weaver, Lester, Pujols, Young

Here's the latest from Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci….

  • Though the Angels won their arbitration hearing with Jered Weaver, Verducci thinks the fact that the case went all the way to a hearing is "a bad sign" for Weaver's future with the Halos.  It certainly doesn't help refute the purported hard feelings between the Angels and Weaver's agent Scott Boras.
  • Verducci compares the contracts and basic performance stats of Weaver, Chad Billingsley, Jon Lester and Cole Hamels.  Verducci guesses Boston saved at least $15MM by signing Lester to a multiyear deal before the 2009 season.
  • Just three players (Todd Helton, Raul Ibanez, and Ichiro) aged 36 years old or older managed to play 100 games in the field last season and reach the league average OPS of .728, Verducci writes.  This pronounced decline rate for older players is the reason the Cardinals are hesitant to pay Albert Pujols a $30MM annual salary into his late thirties.
  • The Rangers are still "the best fit" for Michael Young.  Verducci points out that Young should still be able to find lots of playing time with Texas, if not necessarily an everyday spot in the lineup.  Given how thin the trade market for Young appears to be, Young also may not have a choice but to remain in Texas.


Angels Rumors: Trout, Weaver, Podsednik

The Angels aren't talking to the Rangers about a deal for Michael Young, but the Halos are busy on other fronts, as Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports (all links go to Twitter):

  • The Angels will start top prospect Mike Trout at Double-A. GM Tony Reagins says it's "unlikely" that Trout makes the majors this year. The 19-year-old hit .341/.428/.490 with 56 stolen bases last year in his first full season as a pro.
  • Reagins did not offer to meet Jered Weaver at the midpoint before the sides went to an arbitration hearing yesterday. The Angels' decision paid off when they beat the Scott Boras client and saved themselves over $1.4MM.
  • Arbitration hearings can be uncomfortable for teams and players alike, but Reagins points out that some players are still open to extensions after going to arbitration with their clubs. Corey Hart of the Brewers is one player who agreed to an extension soon after going to arbitration (though he won his hearing with Milwaukee). 
  • The Angels are not in discussions with any free agent leadoff hitters, Reagins said. The Angels were interested in Scott Podsednik earlier in the winter.

Angels Beat Jered Weaver In Arbitration

The Angels won their arbitration hearing with Jered Weaver, MLBTR has learned. As our Arb Tracker shows, the Angels offered $7.365MM, while Weaver and agent Scott Boras countered with an $8.8MM submission.

Weaver earned $4.625MM last year and pitched like an ace. He posted a 3.01 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 224 1/3 innings. The 28-year-old fly ball pitcher made the All-Star team and finished sixth in the voting for the AL Cy Young Award.

Ross Ohlendorf won his hearing with the Pirates earlier in the week, so teams and players have each won one of the two hearings to take place so far this offseason. Ten arbitration eligible players remain unsigned for 2011.


Angels, Weaver Set For Wednesday Hearing

The Angels and right-hander Jered Weaver are scheduled to have their arbitration hearing on Wednesday, blogs Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

The Halos' and Weaver's arbitration hearing would be the second of the 2010-11 offseason after the Pirates and Ross Ohlendorf got that ball rolling on Tuesday, although the sides could still avoid the hearing by settling beforehand. Weaver is seeking $8.80MM, while the Angels are offering $7.37MM, rendering a midpoint of $8.08MM, as shown on our Arbitration Tracker.

Weaver, coming off a fine 2010 in which he posted a 3.01 ERA with a 9.3 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9, is in his second year of arbitration eligibility. A first-round draft pick in 2004, Weaver, 28, is represented by Scott Boras.


Quick Hits: Law’s Top 100, Mahar, Sisk

While the Angels have picked up a reputation for adding pricey outfielders in recent years, they have a highly touted, cheap one on the farm in Mike Trout. Here's more on him and some other items of note …

  • Trout is ranked No. 1 on ESPN analyst Keith Law's list of Top 100 prospects of 2011, released Thursday. Leading the charge with regard to top-25 prospects are the Royals and Rays, with three apiece. Be sure to keep the names on this list in mind, as some of them will surely come up in trade talks this season and into next offseason. In fact, two of the top 25 have already been dealt: The Blue Jays' Kyle Drabek (formerly of the Phillies) and the Padres' Casey Kelly (formerly of the Red Sox).
  • The Orioles are one team that has shown interest in minor league free agent Kevin Mahar pending the resolution of the Vladimir Guerrero situation, MLBTR has learned.  Teams are considering Mahar as an outfielder/first baseman at the Triple-A level, after the 29-year-old hit .261/.342/.423 for the Phillies' Double-A affiliate.
  • The Orioles will be in attendance when free-agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer throws a bullpen session in Arizona on Friday, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. However, that is not to overstate Baltimore's interest, Kubatko notes, because scouting a pitcher's bullpen session is fairly common, and teams can only glean so much from it.
  • The Royals announced left-hander Brandon Sisk as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, and the Brewers did the same of infielder Erick Almonte, according to press releases from each club.
  • Angels owner Arte Moreno said that the addition of Vernon Wells' salary will not preclude the team from engaging in contract-extension talks with young stars Jered Weaver and Kendry Morales, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times. The Halos have already begun those talks with Weaver.

Angels, Weaver Begin Talks About Long-Term Deal

The Angels and Jered Weaver have opened talks about a long-term contract extension according to team owner Arte Moreno, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. Moreno also commented on the reported bad blood between the team and Weaver's agent, Scott Boras…

"My mother always told me, 'If you don't have something nice to say about somebody, don't say anything,'" said Moreno. "I don't have to deal with anybody I don't have to deal with. That's the way I live my life."

Weaver filed for $8.8MM in salary arbitration last week while the team countered with $7.37MM, as our Arbitration Tracker shows. Ben Nicholson-Smith called his case one of ten arbitration cases to watch just a few days ago. 

The 28-year-old Weaver finished fifth in the Cy Young voting and made his first All-Star Game in 2010, pitching to a 3.01 ERA in 224 1/3 innings. He struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings and walks just 2.2 per nine. The 2010 AL strikeout king is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2012 season. GM Tony Reagins told Saxon that it's too early predict if a deal will be reached, but he did say "Any time you have dialogue, it's positive."


Ten Arbitration Cases To Watch

There aren't many unsigned arbitration eligible players remaining at this point in the winter, but many of the most high-profile cases remain unresolved. As MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows, 26 arbitration eligible players have yet to agree on their 2011 salaries. Some of them will sign extensions, some will go to hearings and others will avoid arbitration with one-year deals. Here's a primer on ten of the most interesting arbitration eligible players out there:

10. Mike Napoli, Blue Jays - In case arbitration cases weren't complicated enough, the Blue Jays have to defend the Angels' number ($5.3MM) if they go to an arbitration hearing with Napoli, who filed at $6.1MM. The numbers stand, even though the Blue Jays acquired the catcher/first baseman after the Angels exchanged arbitration submissions with him.

9. R.A. Dickey, Mets – Dickey has said he's open to a multiyear deal. We'll soon know whether Mets GM Sandy Alderson wants to extend the knuckleballer or settle on a contract in the $3.35-4.7MM range.

8. Delmon Young, Twins - There's a $1.6MM difference between Young's asking price ($6.25MM) and the Twins' suggested salary ($4.65MM). 

7. Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles – As I explained yesterday, Guthrie's case could come down to his durability (175 innings in four consecutive seasons) vs. the fact that comparable starters (John Danks, Chad Billingsley, Matt Garza) have been harder to hit.

6. Rickie Weeks, Brewers – The Brewers are no longer discussing a multiyear deal with Weeks, who is asking for $7.2MM. The Brewers countered with $4.85MM.

5. Francisco Liriano, Twins - Liriano made $1.6MM last year and posted a 3.62 ERA with 9.4 K/9 in 191 2/3 innings. His representatives at Legacy Sports will argue that he has earned a raise to $5MM, while Bill Smith and the Twins say $3.6MM is more appropriate.

4. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros – Rodriguez's $10.25MM asking price seems high until you realize how few arbitration eligible pitchers have comparable big league experience (the Astros offered $8MM). Rodriguez is just 15 innings shy of 1,000 for his career and his ERA hasn't surpassed 3.60 in any of the past three seasons. The lefty's 985 innings are 246 more than Erik Bedard had after 2008, the season that set Bedard up for a $7.75MM payday. Few arbitration eligible pitchers earn eight-figure deals, but few have as much big league experience and success as Rodriguez.

3. Jered Weaver, Angels - Weaver requested $8.8MM, while the Angels countered with $7.465MM. Either way, the Scott Boras client will be earning substantially more than he did in 2010, when he made $4.625MM.

2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – I wrote last fall that Bautista's case comes down to his historic 2010 season vs. the forgettable campaigns he strung together before last year. Click here to read more.

1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers - The Rangers could bring up Hamilton’s injury history and past substance abuse, but they would have to do so subtly, says Michael Vlessides, a veteran arbitration consultant.  “It’s the fine line between how much do you pick on the guy who’s the MVP. If you do it too much, you can lose a lot of credibility” Vlessides said. Beating MVPs in arbitration hearings isn’t easy, but the Pirates beat Barry Bonds after he won his first MVP in 1990 and again the following offseason.


Arbitration Figures: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. Let's keep track of those figures here, with the latest updates on top. You can track all of the players that avoided arbitration today here.

(more…)