The San Diego Padres announced on Feb. 18 that they have agreed to a deal with pitcher Jered Weaver. The contract is for one-year and the former Angels’ pitcher will make $3 million dollars once he passes his physical. The deal is supposed to be announced on Monday..
“He’s always been a winner, his entire career,” general manager A.J. Preller told Padres.com, the team’s official website. “[He] has been there, been in the postseason. I think from that standpoint, he brings a lot to our team and some of the other pitchers that are in that locker room.”
Weaver spent 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, compiling a 150-93 win-loss record. He has a 3.55 career ERA with 1,598 strikeouts. He led the American League in 2012 and 2014, and was a three-time American League All-Star, as well.
Jered Weaver enters a crowded, wide open competition for a spot in a starting pitching rotation that is anything but settled.
Weaver struggled in his final season with the Angels, going 12-12 with a 5.06 ERA. The Padres are taking a chance that a change of scenery will help Weaver have a bounce-back year.
Reaction to the Weaver signing by the Padres on social media has been mostly negative. Looking at Twitter, some Padres fans wanted the team to make a run at Jake Peavy. Others are upset about the price tag the team is paying to acquire Weaver. The perception is that Weaver is washed up, and the velocity of his fastball has been on a steep decline, topping out at, possibly, 85 mph.
When seeing past all the rapid reactions and hot takes from critics, signing Weaver actually makes quite a bit of sense for the Padres. First off, it’s not really clear just how much mutual interest the Padres and Peavy had, nor were money figures ever presented. Peavy made $15 million last season. While he isn’t the same hard-throwing strikeout machine he once was, Peavy’s price demand may have been more than what they are paying Weaver.
When Weaver was with the Angels, he was described as a clubhouse leader. Now he brings that veteran presence to a clubhouse full of youngsters.
Weaver’s velocity is a concern, being that it only tops out in the mid-80’s. However, he has other pitches, those being a curveball, a slider, a cutter, and a sinker. On top of that, he’s a fly ball pitcher. While some people might be thinking, “Oh, great. Hitters will take him deep,” those same people need to remember that Weaver will be throwing in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Expect those fly balls to die before they reach the fence. Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski will be in the outfield for him and both men cover a ton of ground.
Also, remember that the Padres’ pitching coach is Darren Balsley, who is considered a miracle worker when it comes to helping pitchers correct their deficiencies. Give Balsley a chance to work with Weaver. He just might work another one of his miracles.
San Diego will have a strong bullpen in 2017. The pitchers who don’t make the starting rotation will be used as relief pitchers, and the Padres will have plenty of arms in the pen. If Weaver can deliver five to six quality innings every start, manager Andy Green can hand the ball over to one of his young relievers.
All in all, this is a move that makes sense. San Diego has some young pitching prospects who bring the team plenty of optimism for the future, but are not ready to be in “The Show” just yet. Weaver’s deal is only for one year. He isn’t a long-term solution for the starting rotation, nor is he in the team’s plans for the future while they complete the rebuilding process. He’s a stopgap, a temporary piece the team will use before calling up their prospects. If he performs well the first half of the season, the Padres could also very well sell high on the veteran and gain more prospects for the future.
His experience and veteran presence should fare well, and he is expected to be a mentor for the young players already in the clubhouse.
A.J. Preller has done a decent job of not only rebuilding the farm that he once sold to acquire a team full of all-stars who he thought could get the Padres back in the postseason, but also laying out a road map of how long the rebuild will take and what the team could reap once it’s finished. He just needs the fan base to stay patient and trust the process.
Signing Weaver is just another small step on the way to bigger things coming in the future. Stay patient.