Baseball BeatMay 31, 2005
By Rich Lederer

In one of the longest stare downs in history, Scott Boras and Jered Weaver blinked first and Arte Moreno and Bill Stoneman were rewarded by signing the consensus number-one player in the 2004 draft to a minor league contract calling for a bonus of $4 million.

I guess you might say I was four months early and several million dollars off, but the two sides finally agreed to tie the knot after protracted discussions and negotiations, which led to the longest holdout (along with Arizona Diamondback Stephen Drew) for an eventual signee in history. With the system stacked against them, Weaver and Drew obviously decided to capitulate to the "take it or leave it" offers made by their respective ballclubs.

In an Instant Message last night, Jim Callis of Baseball America told me he thought "it was a smart business decision because I don't think there was a safety net for him in the 2005 draft." Jim also opined that Weaver "could have cost himself by taking the mound" with the Camden Riversharks on Tuesday and Friday prior to the upcoming draft. In other words, Jered had more to lose than to gain by rejecting the Angels' offer--even as low as it was--and making himself available in the draft next week.

By agreeing to a minor league deal, Weaver gets the $4 million signing bonus upfront rather than spread out over the life of the contract. Had he elected to go for a major league contract, Jered would have also risked losing the prorated share of his bonus in the post-arbitration years. The disadvantage in signing a minor league deal is that Weaver is more vulnerable at the back-end because, under a major league contract, he could only get cut 20% from the average value of, say, $1.05 million (based on $5.25M for five years).

Based on the contract signed, Weaver will receive a standard minor league salary until he reaches the majors. The agreement is subject to the tall right-hander passing a physical this week. He is scheduled to fly back to Southern California today and is slated to begin his professional career in Rancho Cucamonga, the Angels' High Class-A farm team, immediately thereafter. Both Boras and Angels scouting director Eddie Bane think he could move through the system "quickly."

If Boras was quoted correctly in today's L.A. Times article, I have to wonder just how much he knows about his client.

"I think Anaheim is a good place for him. He's a sinkerball pitcher."

Well, I don't know about that. Unless Weaver has added to his repertoire during the past year (while not pitching competitively), he has never been known to throw a sinker. While his brother Jeff may throw a cutter, Jered has always been a fastball, slider, curve, and changeup type. He is as much of a flyball as a groundball style pitcher and could actually benefit by adding a sinker or cutter as he progresses through the Angels' system.

Oh well, what would you expect from just a 5% payout on $4 million?

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Update: Jim Callis tells me that Drew is also going to the California League (Lancaster). Interestingly, the Lancaster JetHawks are scheduled to visit the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on June 3-5 (probably too soon for Weaver to pitch but most likely just in time to accommodate Drew). The Quakes travel to Lancaster on July 1-2 and then these two teams face off again in Rancho Cucamonga on July 3, as well as for a four-game series from July 14-17. (Full schedule.)


And now you know why Arte Moreno is a billionaire. Does it really surprise you that Boras and client blinked 1st? You don't get to be worth truckloads of cash without holding your nerve...especially when you hold most of the good cards.