Angels right-hander Jered Weaver won’t pitch Sunday because of a back injury, but the erstwhile ace does aim to return in 2017.
“I am definitely not retiring,” Weaver told reporters, including Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times, on Saturday (Twitter link).
Weaver, a free agent-to-be, was on the fence about continuing his career earlier this week, saying Wednesday that he wasn’t sure if he’d come back next season. Now the question is whether Weaver will remain with the Angels. The 33-year-old (he’ll turn 34 on Tuesday) has been a member of the organization since it selected him 12th overall in the 2004 draft, but the three-time All-Star isn’t the asset he once was.
The Angels signed Weaver to a five-year, $85MM extension in August 2011, when he was amid a multiyear run as a front-line starter. From 2010 – his breakout season – through 2014, Weaver exceeded 200 innings three times and combined for a sparkling 2.99 ERA, 7.61 K/9 and 2.28 BB/9 over 1,016 1/3 frames. He morphed into a back-of-the-rotation type last year and has declined further during a career-worst 2016, which he’ll finish with a 5.06 ERA, 5.21 K/9 and 2.58 BB/9 over 178 innings. Even in his heyday, Weaver was an extreme fly ball pitcher, but his 28.8 percent ground-ball rate this year is both the lowest mark of his career and the worst among major league starters. That has helped lead to a 12.7 percent home run-to-fly ball rate, another career-worst figure for Weaver.
Looking ahead to 2017, the Angels are rife with rotation questions, which could help the soft-tossing Weaver land another deal with them. Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano will likely miss all of next season after they underwent Tommy John procedures earlier this summer, while the surgery could also be in Garrett Richards’ future. Richards has recovered well since declining to to take the Tommy John route in May, when he instead chose stem-cell therapy treatment, but a setback would bring his availability for next year into question.
If the Angels are set to move on from Weaver, there might be a market for him elsewhere. It seemingly bodes well for him that free agency won’t feature many appealing options. While Weaver’s career has gone backward in recent seasons, he still possesses one of the top track records among soon-to-be free agent starters.