Jered Weaver Rumors
The Angels have signed ace Jered Weaver to a five-year, $85MM contract extension, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (via Twitter). The deal includes a full no-trade clause, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter), and various "significant" bonuses for winning the Cy Young and MVP awards and for earning All-Star berths, writes Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
Weaver, a Boras Corporation client, as MLBTR's Agency Database shows, was slated to hit free agency after 2012, so this extension buys out his final year of arbitration eligibility and four years of free agency at an average annual salary of $17.5MM. He earns $7.37MM in 2011 after losing an arbitration hearing with the Halos prior to this season. Tim Dierkes explained in May that Weaver could have earned as much as $15MM in 2012 after another round of arbitration.
Weaver's deal is similar in terms to the ones Felix Hernandez signed with the Mariners (five years, $78MM) and Justin Verlander (five years, $80MM) inked with the Tigers prior to the 2010 season, as noted by Heyman (Twitter). The difference, though, is that both Hernandez and Verlander had two remaining years of arbitration eligibility when they signed, whereas Weaver is nearer to free agency with only one remaining. The contract is the largest for a pitcher in Angels history, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter).
As Jeff Passan of Yahoo! notes, the projected class of free-agent starters in 2013 is deep, headlined by Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Shaun Marcum, John Danks, Anibal Sanchez and Francisco Liriano (Twitter link). So, perhaps Weaver and his representatives were motivated to get a jump on that market, as Boras Corporation clients typically go to free agency. Buster Olney of ESPN.com thinks Weaver could have fetched a nine-figure contract on the open market after 2012 (Twitter link).
The 28-year-old right-hander, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2004 draft, is in the midst of a career year, posting a 2.10 ERA (178 ERA+), 7.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. He is among the favorites to win the American League Cy Young Award, along with Verlander and CC Sabathia of the Yankees.
The deal will be announced by the club on Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
As the Angels and Mariners begin a three-game series at Safeco Field tonight, let's look at some items concerning those clubs and their other two division rivals....
- Could the Angels considering moving Jered Weaver this summer? FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal looks at what might happen if the Halos fall out of contention, with a Weaver deal being the biggest possible move the club could make to rebuild. I looked at Weaver as both a trade and an extension candidate last April.
- MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan looks at some reader suggestions about what the Rangers might do before the trade deadline. Sullivan speculates that the Orioles could be a good trade partner for the Rangers -- Texas wants right-handed relivers (like Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara) and Baltimore could use a first baseman for the future like Chris Davis.
- Athletics southpaw Brett Anderson will not need Tommy John surgery, reports ESPN's Buster Olney. (Twitter link) Dr. James Andrews instead recommended six weeks of rehabilition for Anderson, and the two will meet again in three weeks for a re-evaluation.
- Also from Buster Olney, (via Twitter), the Athletics could find a suitor for Mark Ellis without leaving the Bay Area. The Giants need second base help with Freddy Sanchez possibly out for the season, while the A's might prefer to give playing time at second base to Jemile Weeks or Scott Sizemore. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes listed Ellis as a possible trade candidate in his examination of what the A's might do if they become sellers. Of note: Ellis does have no-trade protection in his contract, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.
- The three-team deal between the Mariners, Indians and Mets in December 2008 has proven to be a boon for the M's, writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
It's still a little early to be thinking about trades, but the Mariners are contemplating a big mid-season addition nonetheless. Here's the latest...
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times hears that the Mariners aren't in a rush to promote Dustin Ackley, though they like what they've seen from him at the plate. Baker says the Mariners don't want to risk paying Ackley for four years of arbitration when his glove isn't ready. Despite Ackley's hitting, they don't feel he's ready defensively.
- Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner hears that the Mariners could call on Ackley as soon as tomorrow. The hot-hitting prospect homered today and the Mariners aren't worried about the possibility that Ackley will qualify for super two status, according to Cameron. Ackley would have a good chance at qualifying for arbitration four times if he gets the call tomorrow and stays in the Majors.
- Dallas Braden underwent successful surgery to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder, the A’s announced. The left-hander is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
- As Tom Verducci of SI.com explains, Angels ace Jered Weaver has become a strikeout pitcher in spite of his "pipe cleaner legs" and 90 mph fastball. Weaver could double his $7.365MM salary in 2012 thanks to those strikeout numbers, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained in detail earlier this month.
Jered Weaver's upcoming arbitration case won't be as groundbreaking as Tim Lincecum's, but Weaver should still continue to set arbitration records. Let's see what's in store for the 28-year-old righty.
The Impact Of Losing A Hearing
Weaver will be arbitration eligible for the third time after this season, and most consider him the first and second-time record holder with $4.365MM and $7.365MM salaries. However, that $7.365MM figure was actually the Angels' submission, as Weaver and agent Scott Boras filed at $8.8MM and lost the February hearing.
Aside from setting Weaver back $1.435MM, losing the case might have minimal impact on his 2012 salary. The focus should still be on Weaver's 2011 season and his career numbers, both of which should be better than they were at the hearing if the pitcher's first seven starts are any indication. Scott Boras is not generally one to back down from an arbitration hearing, so another one is possible unless Weaver is opposed.
The Raise Argument
One agent explained the general strategy each side takes in an arbitration hearing: "Owners always make the raise argument, whereas the union always concentrates on comparable players and numbers notwithstanding what “raise” a player is getting. The teams have been somewhat successful with their raise arguments in some cases."
The raise argument for Weaver starts with Carlos Zambrano's $5.9MM increase in 2007. Since Weaver is expected to have better career and platform numbers than Zambrano did, a bigger raise is appropriate - maybe $2MM more, putting him over $15MM. There's also the current class factor - if John Danks and Matt Garza settle before Weaver, each side can try to spin those pitchers' raises into arguments about what Weaver should earn.
Boras could be compelled to shoot for the moon with Weaver, if for example he wins a Cy Young award. Boras could eschew the Zambrano/Danks/Garza comparables, instead making the argument that there is no pitcher comparable to Weaver who went this far in arbitration going year to year. That could open the door to A.J. Burnett/John Lackey comparisons, allowing Boras to argue for something around $16.5MM. That's probably the ceiling.
The Extension Possibility
Surprisingly, one agent predicted Weaver will sign an extension with the Angels. We haven't seen many high-profile Boras clients take that route one year away from a free agent payday, and the Angels aren't on the best of terms with Boras. Plus, Weaver attended the February hearing, and there's no telling how that affected him. On the other hand, Weaver is a California guy and the Angels have minimal commitments beyond Vernon Wells in 2013 and beyond. In recent memory, the only Boras client who chose not to explore free agency with one year remaining was Ryan Madson.
In an email discussion, members of the MLBTR writing team pointed out that Weaver will turn 30 in October of 2012, meaning he will be older than C.C. Sabathia, Barry Zito, and Johan Santana were when they signed huge extensions. Nonetheless, we all see $20MM+ per year as likely, even if the term only covers six free agent seasons. The MLBTR writing team believes Weaver could land something like a six-year, $140-150MM deal on the open market after '12. If Weaver were to sign an extension before the '12 season, I don't imagine much of a discount, though perhaps he'd give up his last arbitration year for $12MM or so instead of battling for every last dollar in that season.
The Bottom Line
When the 2012 season begins, Weaver's name could occupy all three spots in the starting pitcher arbitration record book (some wouldn't count Tim Lincecum's third-year salary, since he didn't go year to year). Weaver will still be a bargain for the Angels next year even if his salary doubles and he lands around $15MM.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Emilio "Millito" Navarro, believed to be the oldest living professional baseball player at 105, passed away in Puerto Rico today. The former Negro Leaguer also played in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico during his career. Our condolences go out to his family.
- Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that former Mets GM Omar Minaya has spent the past two days on a "friendly visit" with Indians GM Chris Antonetti, president Mark Shapiro, and manager Manny Acta. Cleveland interviewed former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes during the offseason, and Hoynes says Antonetti has "made [it] no secret that he'd like to add the right person to the front office."
- While researching the impending free agency of young stars, SI's Jon Heyman (via Twitter) learned that we can count on Jered Weaver and John Danks filing after 2012.
- It's been a bad day for star third basemen, writes Justin Sablich of the New York Times. The Giants lost Pablo Sandoval for 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right wrist and the Nationals announced that Ryan Zimmerman, who has been on the disabled list since April 12, will miss at least an another six weeks. If both players return within those timeframes, it's unlikely that either squad will look for an out-of-house fill-in.
- Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs questions the Blue Jays' wisdom in demoting Travis Snider to work on his hitting after just 99 plate appearances in 2011.
Ryan Braun's $105MM, five-year contract extension through 2020 seemed like it came out of nowhere, but a ton of other young stars also appear to be in line for new deals, writes Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. Heyman runs down the 20-somethings that could get hefty contract extensions and touches on a few other things in today's column..
- Giants ace Tim Lincecum won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season, but San Francisco would be wise to lock him up before his arbitration numbers get out of hand. A third Cy Young season could potentially bring Lincecum from $14MM into the $25MM range and possibly to $30MM in '13. Heyman expects a deal to get done, even if it costs the club a fortune. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes touched on the Lincecum situation here and here, and will have much more on the topic next week.
- Similarly, there's no reason to think the Yankees would let Robinson Cano leave in the prime of his career. The Bombers have options for 2012 and '13 at $14MM and $15MM, respectively, and will obviously exercise them. Look for the Yanks to get a deal done with the second baseman, but only after the Scott Boras client files for free agency.
- Reds slugger Joey Votto will hit the open market after 2013 and it would be wise for the club to lock him up as the youngster continues to improve. This winter he signed a three-year, $38MM to take care of his arbitration years, but his rate will presumably rise after that deal is up. Heyman believes that the Reds will lock up Votto, just as they did with Jay Bruce. This winter, Cincinnati signed the right fielder to a six-year, $51MM deal.
- Even though the Marlins' poor attendance would seem to indicate that the club doesn't have the funds to sign Josh Johnson to a new deal, they are on their way to a brand-new facility in the near future. Putting that aside, they're still in the black. His $39MM, four-year deal goes through 2013 but his next contract should easily top that.
- If you're a Halos fan looking to purchase a Jered Weaver jersey, you may want to reconsider. Heyman writes that the right-hander is all but a goner in two years. Agent Scott Boras is talking his client up and the Angels don't have a history of keeping their top free agents anyway. It's possible that the next Dodgers owner, assuming there is one, could talk the Simi Valley product into a homecoming.
- It may come as a surprise to some, but Heyman predicts that Andre Ethier will remain with the Dodgers beyond 2012. GM Ned Colletti is believed to want to lock up Ethier along with Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Even though the Dodgers' situation is probably too messy for anything to get done right away, they have to act fast to keep the 29-year-old.
- You can also expect the Dodgers to work something out with Kemp, who is also a free agent after 2012.
- Of the 33 players that Heyman profiles, he expects most to get new deals done with their respective clubs. Some of the players that we may see elsewhere: John Danks, Shin Soo-Choo, Jonathan Sanchez, Justin Morneau, Grady Sizemore, and Shaun Marcum.
- TV magnate Burt Sugarman is one name believed to be in the mix among potential buyers of the Dodgers. Investment banker Jason Reese and billionaire Ron Burkle are also in the mix. Burkle is teaming with former Dodgers great Steve Garvey.
C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and (possibly) C.C. Sabathia aren’t the only left-handed starters pitching for contracts in 2011. Sure, they’re the ones hitting free agency, but this season is an important one for the bank accounts of David Price and Clayton Kershaw, too.
No, they aren’t eligible for free agency, but they are nearing salary arbitration, their first chance for a major payday since signing seven-figure bonuses as first round picks. Various agents and arbitration experts around MLB say they expect the southpaws to redefine the market for first-time arbitration eligible starters this offseason if they stay healthy and continue pitching well.
To do so, Price and Kershaw will have to pass current record holder Dontrelle Willis and Jered Weaver in the $4.3MM range (though Weaver won’t mind, as his salary will skyrocket well into eight-figure territory this offseason). Price (pictured) and Kershaw will need formidable seasons to have superior numbers to the ones Weaver had after 2009 and justify precedent-setting salaries. So far, so good for the southpaws; both are healthy and off to strong starts.
At this point, Weaver has a distinct edge in stats such as starts, wins, innings and quality starts (vital stats for starters in the arbitration process). Kershaw will be able to catch L.A.’s other ace in every one of those categories except for wins if he continues his current pace. Since Kershaw’s ERA is half a run better and he allows fewer hits while striking out more batters, his representatives at Hendricks Sports should be able to argue convincingly that he has earned a salary north of $4.3MM.
Price, on the other hand, won’t catch Weaver or match Kershaw in starts, innings or quality starts. Like Kershaw, his ERA is considerably better than Weaver’s and unlike Kershaw he has award recognition (a second place finish in the 2010 Cy Young voting) and postseason success (3.93 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 in the playoffs) on his side.
Most importantly, Price is working from a $2MM base salary because of the deal he and agent Bo McKinnis negotiated when Price was the top pick in the nation four years ago. The 25-year-old’s high base salary will provide him with leverage and figures to boost his salary into record territory, well beyond Weaver.
Kershaw and Price should both top Weaver and Willis and establish a new market for elite first-time arbitration eligible pitchers, but how high can they go? Tim Lincecum filed for $13MM as a first-time arbitration eligible pitcher before agreeing to a two-year deal last offseason. He had two Cy Young awards at the time, which makes him a poor point of reference for just about any pitcher. Kershaw and Price can forget about asking for $13MM for now.
Jonathan Papelbon technically holds the record for first time arbitration eligible pitchers with a $6.25MM salary. However, arbitrators treat starters and relievers differently, so Papelbon is hardly a better point of reference than Lincecum. Barring the unexpected, Price and Kershaw will not be able to match Papelbon's $6.25MM salary, according to every agent and arbitration analyst surveyed.
“If you are Kershaw's agent, you not only have to beat Weaver - which I think he can - but you somehow have to justify that Kershaw is almost $2MM better than Weaver,” one said. “That can't happen without a significant market shift.”
Not one person surveyed by MLBTR suggested either Price or Kershaw is headed for $6.25MM in 2012, a strong indication that they' aren't set to shatter Weaver's first year mark by $2MM or more.
The early consensus is that Kershaw’s salary figures to sit in the $5-5.5MM range, while Price’s salary will be near the $6MM mark. Either pitcher could sign an extension, instead of following Weaver’s example and going one year at a time (click here for Tim Dierkes’ take on a possible extension for Price).
If they do go year to year, both Price and Kershaw are on track to shoot past Weaver and into the $5-6MM range. It would establish a new record for first-time arbitration eligible pitchers, re-set the market for baseball’s next generation of aces and prime Kershaw and Price for even bigger paydays in the future.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Several arbitration records could fall in 2012. Here's my best attempt at finding the current records for starting pitchers who went year-to-year.
- First time: Dontrelle Willis - $4.35MM (2006). If you count the $100K in award bonuses Jered Weaver earned last year, he's the record holder at $4.365MM.
- Second time: Jered Weaver - $7.37MM (2011). Weaver's agent Scott Boras actually aimed to push this bar up to $8.8MM, but he lost an arbitration hearing to the Angels. There does not appear to be a challenger to this record in the upcoming offseason.
- Third time: Carlos Zambrano - $12.4MM (2007). Z's $5.9MM raise had precedent: the $6MM raises Kevin Millwood and Chan Ho Park received early in the decade.
Whatever you consider the first-time record, it'll probably fall unless Clayton Kershaw and David Price sign multiyear extensions. If those two aces have their first-time salaries determined in the arbitration process, they'll probably both reach $5MM.
Weaver, who already has six wins and 49 strikeouts on the season, has a good chance of topping Zambrano's $5.9MM raise and setting a new standard for elite pitchers going to arbitration for a third time. Based on projections, Weaver should be well ahead of where Zambrano was before his third arbitration year in everything aside from ERA (in which they could be almost dead even). Boras could have a good case for a $7-8MM raise, taking Weaver to a $15MM salary in his final year before free agency.
Side note: if Weaver's salary gets to such dizzying heights, the rising tide will lift those below him like John Danks and Matt Garza. If Weaver gets to $15MM before Danks' salary is determined, Danks' agent can use that to his client's benefit.
We haven't yet mentioned Tim Lincecum, who would have eclipsed Willis' record had he not signed a two-year deal. Lincecum is untouchable, and if his 2012 salary is determined by the arbitration process it will easily top Weaver's and be an arbitration record for all non-free agent players, not just pitchers.
After allowing two earned runs in seven innings against the White Sox tonight, Jered Weaver's ERA ballooned all the way up to...1.30, in four starts. After a big 2010 season in which he led the majors in strikeouts, it's safe to designate Weaver as one of baseball's best young aces. As Weaver's agent Scott Boras no doubt would argue, all that remains is for Weaver to be paid like an ace.
Weaver will make $7.365MM this season after losing an arbitration case last winter and his bid for an $8.8MM salary. This result apparently caused no hard feelings between the two sides, as Weaver expressed interest in signing a long-term deal with the Angels. The subject was broached during the offseason but talks apparently went nowhere, though there's plenty of time to continue negotiations since Weaver is under team control through 2012.
Weaver will have over five years of service time after this season, and presuming he at least matches his 2010 performance, Boras will no doubt shoot for an extension matching or surpassing the biggest deals handed out to pitchers with 5+ years of service time. Jake Peavy is the current holder of this title thanks to the three-year, $52MM extension he signed with the Padres in 2007 that covered the 2010-12 seasons, and also gave Peavy a $22MM option for 2013 (with a $4MM buyout).
That deal is a bit unusual, though, since it was an extension signed when Peavy still has two more years remaining on a previous extension with San Diego. Perhaps a better comparison is the five-year, $73MM deal that Roy Oswalt signed with the Astros that locked him up from 2007 through 2011. This contract (which contains a $16MM club option for 2012 that can be bought out for $2MM) was signed during Oswalt's age-28 season, and a Weaver extension would fall at the same point in his career.
Since Weaver has yet to hit the five-season mark, let's compare the two right-handers through the first 4+ seasons of their careers. For good measure, let's throw in another pitcher who signed an extension this winter: Houston's Wandy Rodriguez.
Weaver: 64 wins, 3.55 ERA, 144 starts, 896 IP, 779 strikeouts, 3.09 K/BB rate, 1.20 WHIP, 7.8 K/9
Oswalt: 83 wins, 3.07 ERA, 145 starts (155 games overall), 980 2/3 IP, 850 strikeouts, 3.78 K/BB rate, 1.18 WHIP, 7.8 K/9
Rodriguez: 51 wins, 4.33 ERA, 135 starts (144 games overall), 790 IP, 660 strikeouts, 2.32 K/BB rate, 1.37 WHIP, 7.5 K/9
Oswalt has the edge, and he was also in the midst of a fantastic 2006 when he signed his extension in August of that year. Weaver, therefore, won't be able to catch Oswalt in overall numbers even if he keeps up his impressive early-season form. Weaver's numbers, however, are clearly superior to those of Rodriguez through 4+ years. Rodriguez delivered a very good 2010 campaign that led to a three-year, $34MM deal from the Astros that covered his final arbitration year and his first two free agent years (plus a vesting option that could pay him $10.5MM in 2014).
So, logically, a fair extension for Weaver would be a deal that pays him closer to Oswalt's $14.6MM average annual value than Rodriguez's $11.33MM average annual value, perhaps something in the neighborhood of $13.5MM per season. In terms of length, probably a three-year contract is the most reasonable given the history of Boras clients testing the free agent market. Weaver would still be able to hit free agency at age 32 and get another nice contract if he continues to pitch well past his prime years.
But, let's look at the elephant in the room -- whether or not Weaver will indeed choose to remain an Angel. Weaver will turn 30 years old in October 2012, still in his prime and able to command a huge free agent deal if he pitches well over the next two years. Durability doesn't appear to be an issue for Weaver, so there isn't any unusual risk he'd be taking by not signing an extension, especially since he looks to be in line for an eight-figure salary next season either through arbitration or just a one-year deal from the Halos.
There's also the X-factor of the relationship between Boras and the Angels organization. Owner Arte Moreno is no fan of the agent, dating back to the Mark Teixeira negotiations during the 2008-09 offseason. Though Moreno has said that he will leave dealings with Boras to GM Tony Reagins and other club personnel, no Boras client has signed with the Angels since 2008, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker indicates.
If Los Angeles can't come to a long-term agreement with Weaver by next offseason, the club could consider selling high on its young ace and trying to deal him. Such a move wouldn't be popular with fans, but the Halos could potentially net a nice package of either short-term Major League help if they feel their current nucleus has another run in them for 2012, or perhaps for prospects to fuel the next great (Mike Trout-led) Angels team.
There would be no shortage of interest in Weaver on the trade market. To cite the most obvious candidate, there's a certain pinstriped team from the Big Apple that is in need of starting pitching and has no problems dealing with Scott Boras. Apart from the Yankees, one could imagine the Nationals, Rangers (though L.A. probably wouldn't move their ace to a division rival) or even the Cubs having both the interest and the resources to acquire Weaver and give him the extension that would probably be required in such a trade.
The numbers are there for a fair extension between Weaver and the Angels, and the right-hander has himself expressed an interest in remaining with the team. A number of obstacles, however, seem to be standing between Weaver remaining an Angel past (or even though) the 2012 season.
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.
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.