Baseball BeatJanuary 22, 2005
Seriously Speaking
By Rich Lederer

Weaver Talks Getting 'Serious' is a headline in today's Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Mike DiGiovanna reports that the Angels and Scott Boras are in "serious discussions" that may lead to a deal before the start of spring training next month.

Neither agent Scott Boras nor Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman would elaborate, but Boras confirmed Friday that they had spoken by phone several times this week and would have face-to-face meetings "shortly."

The two sides have had little dialogue since the Angels selected Jered Weaver with the 12th pick in the draft last June. They are believed to be "millions apart" with Boras seeking a Mark Prior-like contract and the Angels offering money more in line with what other first-round starting pitchers have received. The former USC star received $10.5 million for five years while Justin Verlander, Philip Humber, and Jeff Niemann have each recently signed five-year contracts for approximately $5 million.

The five-million dollar gap between the deal Prior inked 3 1/2 years ago and those consummated as recently as the past week (in the case of Humber and Niemann) is presumably what needs to be compromised if the Angels and Weaver are going to reach an agreement. You can probably narrow that gulf to four million as I am quite certain that Boras and Weaver would be happy with an eight-figure deal and the Angels would have no hesitation making the College Player of the Year the highest-paid player from the 2004 draft by offering at least six million.

Maybe the Houston Astros-Roger Clemens negotiations can serve as a model for the Angels and Weaver. The Astros offered $13.5 million and The Rocket asked for $22 million when the two sides filed their proposals for salary arbitration last Tuesday. Three days later, they agreed to $18 million (a number that was just north of the mid-point at $17.75 million).

Let's see, $6 million and $10 million leaves a mid-point of $8 million. The Angels agree to give in a little to let the player win and, bingo, you've got yourself a deal at or near $8.5 million. That is a number that should work for both sides.

Although Weaver has stats comparable to Prior, one could argue that the latter projected to a somewhat higher ceiling owing to his superior mechanics, a 2-3 mph advantage on their fastballs, and arguably better stuff. Jered, on the other hand, has equally good command and control. He is as polished as Mark was at the same stage of their careers. When you shake it all up, Prior comes out on top with Weaver not too far behind.

Ten million is probably a tad too close to Prior. Six or even seven million doesn't leave enough separation between Weaver and his fellow pitchers in the class of 2004. Eight to nine million is the number that makes sense. With so much definition provided by the various signings, I would be surprised if the amount of money winds up below or above that range.

Should the Angels and Weaver agree on a pact before spring training, I think it is quite possible that the player who Baseball America ranked as the closest to the major leagues among the draftees will pitch in Anaheim sometime this summer. If they don't, it's possible that the two sides could still negotiate a deal all the way up to the week before the next draft. However, I wouldn't expect Weaver to make the jump to the big leagues without the benefit of spring training and at least a couple of months in the minors.

Weaver and the Angels. The Angels and Weaver. I hope a million dollars or pride doesn't get in the way of this match made in heaven.


Jered... Weaver...

Jim... Edmonds...

I hope the Weaver deal gets done as well; I'd enjoy reading what you continue to have to say about him while watching him up close and personal in Southern Cali.

And maybe the Angels and Cubs can meet in the Series, so Prior can go up against your boy Weaver and kick his lily-white ass.

I can't lose. I can either root for the Trojan or my man Weaver. USC or Long Beach. Long Beach or USC. My alma mater and my hometown.

I like this article a lot more than the previous ones on Weaver, it was a great read!

I deleted the last comment because the reader was masquerading behind a made-up name and email address. My goal is to keep the comments section on Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT of the quality that we have all come to expect. You can voice a dissenting opinion but no anonymous or fairy tale names, please.