I ranked Jeff Weaver 18th overall on my Top 50 Free Agents for 2006, and he’s easily the best remaining starting pitcher (Roger Clemens aside). After Weaver the dropoff is huge – it’s Kevin Brown or Lima Time. Kind of remains me of this, a memory I’ve been trying to repress for ten years.
For a while it seemed like Weaver was being strangely undervalued in the market. He’s a very dependable starter and he’s still 29. He’s thrown 444 innings over the past two seasons with the Dodgers, compiling a 4.11 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 6.3 K/9 during that span.
Ken Rosenthal cleared this muddy picture for us yesterday after speaking with Weaver’s agent, Scott Boras. We now know that Weaver hadn’t actually hit the market until now. Boras delayed Weaver’s release date to give the Dodgers first crack at him. It seems that a three-year contract with an option would’ve gotten the job done, but it might take four years at this point.
Last week, Weaver was looking like a potential free agent bargain in the vein of Kevin Millwood last year for the Indians. If nobody wanted to give him three years and $30MM (or whatever), he’d just take a one-year, $8MM deal or something. However, what this potential bargain has taken a 180. It’s fairly obvious that once a ton of people want something, it becomes overvalued. Such will be the case with Weaver, who has eight teams after him.
Rosenthal’s speculation on that front: the Red Sox, Cardinals, and Orioles. Let’s expand on that and try to nail the possibilities.
Orioles – Given Weaver’s recent durability, we know Peter Angelos’s injury hangups probably won’t come into play here. And let’s not rule out the ballclub just because Angelos and Boras aren’t best buddies. The club talks to all agents and is a good fit for Weaver.
Red Sox – I can’t help but doubt the Sox want to bring Weaver back into the AL East. His 5.99 ERA with the Yankees in ’03 looms large.
Tigers – No one seems to think the Tigers would bring Weaver back. Their rotation is pretty much set anyway.
Angels – Maybe he’d love to play with his brother Jered one day, et cetera et cetera. This is cited as a pretty big reason for the Angels to be in play, but a lot of us thought the Braves would end up with Brian Giles for the same reason. According to Bill Stoneman, signing Weaver is "not a likely thing."
Mets – Sure, why not? Pedro, Glavine, Weaver, Benson, Trachsel. You could do worse.
Phillies – Let’s see how this rotation looks so far: Lieber, Lidle, Madson, Myers, Ryan Franklin. I think they’re set, especially with a few options in-house for replacements.
Nationals – It’s looking like they’re going with John Patterson, Livan Hernandez, Ramon Ortiz, Brian Lawrence, and Tony Armas. Ryan Drese is floating around as well. I know they’re mentioned as a main suitor, but I don’t see it.
Cubs – Certainly seems like a legit possibility. No Boras reservations. Possible rotation: Zambrano, Prior, Maddux, Wood, Jerome Williams. Not counting on Wood probably means Glendon Rusch or Rich Hill though. Despite the surplus, the Cubs have been making noise about adding another starter. Perhaps Williams would be dealt (although this seems like an unwise course of action to me).
Astros – Weaver would definitely solidify things and relieve their dependency on Roger Clemens.
Cardinals – They will be going with Carpenter, Mulder, Suppan, Marquis, and Reyes in the rotation. If Marquis is traded and Ponson does not take his spot, it would make sense to add Weaver to the mix. After all, Jocketty has pursued Javier Vazquez, Matt Morris, and A.J. Burnett this winter. Perhaps the Cardinal faithful can tell us whether he’d fit into the payroll.
Diamondbacks – No plans to pursue Weaver, according to Josh Byrnes.
I think that pretty much sums it up. In order of likelihood, Orioles, Cardinals, Mets, Cubs, Astros, Angels. Just my best guess. I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments.