Angels Sign Weaver to 1-Year, $8.5-Million Contract
By Mike DiGiovanna, Times Staff Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels agreed to terms this morning with free-agent pitcher Jeff Weaver on a one-year contract for about $8.5 million. The former Dodger right-hander was en route to the Phoenix area for a physical and is expected to join Angel pitchers and catchers for their first workout Thursday.
The addition of Weaver, the older brother of top Angel pitching prospect Jered Weaver, eases the loss of free agents Paul Byrd and Jarrod Washburn. The move should give the Angels one of baseball's best rotations, a staff that includes 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana.
The signing also enables the Angels to move projected No. 5 starter Hector Carrasco, a reliever for virtually all of his nine big-league seasons, to the bullpen, strengthening a relief corps that seemed to thin out behind closer Francisco Rodriguez and setup men Scot Shields and J.C. Romero.
Scott Boras, Weaver's agent, said Weaver had multi-year offers from other teams, and he discussed adding an option year to the deal with the Angels, but Weaver, 29, wanted to retain the flexibility of pursuing a multiyear deal after the 2006 season.
"We discussed some two-year proposals, but we felt a one-year situation would be good," Boras said. "Jeff's still a young pitcher, and he certainly wants a multi-year contract. He had offers for more money, and a multi-year offer, be he decided to take one year and to review the situation at the end of the year."
Weaver, who could make about $9 million with incentives, signed for far less than what he was originally seeking, a four-year deal in the $45-million range. But once talks with the Dodgers broke off on Jan. 8, Weaver's market shrunk.
Weaver had declined an arbitration offer with the Dodgers in December. He told the team he'd sign a three-year, $27-million deal with an option, but the Dodgers never made a firm offer.
"It's very simple," Boras said, "the Dodgers said they were interested in bringing Jeff back, but in the end, they never made a proposal. I think all of the teams in baseball thought he would be with the Dodgers. Once they [pulled out] a lot of teams had already made some decisions. Jeff wanted to go to the right place. He wanted to go to a winning team."
Weaver, a Simi Valley native, has a career 78-87 record over seven years. While he is not considered one of baseball's dominant starters, he has gained a reputation as a reliable innings-eater with excellent control, a pitcher who usually keeps his team in the game.
Weaver went 27-24 with a 4.11 ERA in 444 innings for the Dodgers over the past two seasons, striking out 310 and walking 110 in that span. Though he had a winning record for a team that went 71-91 record last season, there was one blip on Weaver's record-he allowed a career-high 35 home runs after allowing 19 the year before.
Weaver also has struggled against the Angels' American League West opponents, going 2-3 with a 5.56 ERA in nine games against Oakland, 1-5 with a 5.24 ERA in eight games against Texas, and 1-2 with a 5.35 ERA in six games against Seattle.
But Weaver should be a considerable rotation upgrade over Carrasco. Carrasco should bolster the bullpen, and with many expecting the Angel offense to struggle to score runs again, the Angels will need as much pitching depth as they can get.