Weaver becomes part of Angels family
Pitcher, reunited with brother, joins club in hopes of winning
TEMPE, Ariz. -- What began with a sense of loyalty ended with a desire to win.
Jeff Weaver had hoped to continue his two-year relationship with the Dodgers and negotiate a multiyear contract to remain with the club. But when the Jan. 8 deadline approached to accept salary arbitration with no deal in place, Weaver opted to cut ties and decline an offer.
The result was five weeks of waiting before the Angels landed Weaver on Wednesday with a one-year contract worth up to $9 million, including incentives.
"Was I concerned? Not really," Weaver said Thursday after his first workout in an Angels uniform here at Spring Training. "Obviously, it is a little different experience for me. I usually have a spot waiting for me."
The Angels are Weaver's fourth Major League club. The right-hander reached the Tigers in 1999 and spent parts of four seasons with them. Between Detroit and Los Angeles, Weaver spent a season and a half with the Yankees, which included two appearances in the 2002 American League Division Series against the Angels, when he allowed two runs over 2 2/3 innings, and a World Series appearance the following year, when he allowed a walk-off homer to the Marlins' Alex Gonzalez in Game 4.
Prior to Wednesday, though, Weaver had either been drafted, promoted or traded; free agency was a new experience. He realized that had he been more proactive at the beginning of the signing period instead of being loyal to his previous employer, he may have been able to land, if not a bigger payday, then one with the security of more years.
But if seven years in the Majors have taught him anything, it's perspective and Weaver is nothing but pleased to remain in Southern California.
"I had multiyear offers from other teams, but I wanted to be a part of a winner," Weaver said. "I'm at the point of my career where I just want to win."
The kicker in the deal is the fact that Weaver is united with his younger brother, Jered, at least for now, for the first time. The 2004 first-round pick by the Angels, Jered Weaver is in big-league camp with a chance to compete for a job.
A twist, perhaps, is Jered Weaver will likely see his chance of opening the year on the 25-man roster eclipsed by his older brother. But a quick phone call rendered any concerns moot.
"I was happy for him. This is one of the only times that I'll be able to play with him. It's good to get some Spring Training time," said Jered Weaver, six years Jeff's junior. "We've never even been on the same field."
And the siblings should have a smoother time of it than a time when Jered was in grade school and said that Jeff, armed with a new driver's license, didn't want his "punk 10-year-old brother hanging out."
Jeff Weaver indicated rivalry will be an issue for opposing teams and not the new teammates.
"He was more excited about it than I expected," the veteran said. "We have become closer in the last seven, eight, nine years."
Closer is what the Angels are now to winning a third straight AL West crown with the addition of the elder Weaver than the club appeared through much of the offseason. Where the A's, Rangers and Mariners all made moves to improve, the Angels were largely quiet as they held on to prospects and made mostly supplemental moves.
Barring any spring setbacks, the signing of Weaver now completes a rotation that includes Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana.
"I think Jeff wants the ball and he wants to pitch," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He has pitched terrific baseball for a long time. He knows what it is to come in where the expectations are high."
Jeff Weaver cited the ownership of Arte Moreno and the type of team that Scioscia operates as two key reasons to sign with the Angels. Though he has been a No. 1 starter in the past, he said he will apply his past experience to his time with the Angels, with whom he will be one of five.
"In New York with [Roger] Clemens, [Mike] Mussina and [Andy] Pettitte and all those guys around, you kind of lose yourself," Weaver said. "When I went to L.A., I regained that confidence and found myself. I don't want to lose that."
Also, with a one-year deal, he has the specter of another free agency at the end of the season, but that is a problem for another time.
"I think it is a risk each and every year regardless," Weaver said. "Knock on wood, I've been healthy every year and I want to keep it that way. Hopefully, I'll go out and do my job and I'll be here for a few years."
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.