San Diego has parted ways with a variety of notable pitchers in recent months, which left the team with a skeleton crew entering the offseason. But the club has already reached a pair of modest, $1.75MM deals with Jhoulys Chacin and Clayton Richard, each of whom appear likely to occupy rotation slots.
Despite those signings, the rotation currently projects to feature at least three largely unproven arms. Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource lists Luis Perdomo, Christian Friedrich, and Paul Clemens as the next starters in line on the Friars’ depth chart. Needless to say, that mix leaves plenty of room for addition.
Unlike rebuilding rivals such as the Braves and Phillies, each of whom committed significantly more cash to add their own short-term starters, the Padres are seemingly on the look for true bargains. San Diego is also said to be eyeing former staff ace Jake Peavy, who struggled last year with the Giants and will turn 36 during the 2017 season. The club surely has some interest in others as well.
Weaver, 34, ended his season with a minor back injury after giving the Angels 178 innings over 31 starts, but it seems that he fully expects to continue pitching. While he still commands the ball, and drew plaudits for taking the bump every fifth day, Weaver was more vulnerable than ever in his final season with Los Angeles. He surrendered a career-high 5.06 earned runs per nine with 5.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. And those disappointing results came despite a continuation of his long history of outperforming the expectations of ERA estimators, which took rather a dim view of his 2016 effort (5.62 FIP, 5.64 xFIP, 5.44 SIERA).
Never a flamethrower, Weaver has seen his average four-seam fastball velocity decline from the ~90 mph range all the way down to 84 mph in 2016. Opposing hitters made hard contact at a 34.7% clip and hit homers on 12.7% of the flies they put in play against Weaver, both of which were career-worst numbers for the former Halos ace, who also generated grounders at a personal-low rate of 28.8%.
All told, it’s tough to see much reason to believe that Weaver can regain his form of old, though perhaps with some tweaks he can still represent a plausible back-of-the-rotation option. Given the rough platform year, it likely won’t take much of a commitment for the Padres or another organization to find out. Certainly, San Diego and others will place at least some additional value on Weaver’s pedigree and respected status around the game.