ANAHEIM, Calif. — Although Jered Weaver doesn’t enjoy the business aspects of baseball, even he could tell these numbers just didn’t add up.
A few extra millions in free agency weren’t nearly worth changing his home and his heart, which are both with the Los Angeles Angels.
With dozens of fans chanting Weaver’s name outside Angel Stadium, the club formally announced a five-year, US$85 million deal with Weaver on Tuesday, keeping the ace with the Halos through 2016.
Weaver hadn’t even left the podium before addressing the hometown discount he apparently gave his only major-league club. As one of baseball’s most promising young starters, the Southern California native likely could have commanded an enormous contract as an unrestricted free agent after next season — and his agent, Scott Boras, undoubtedly wanted to get top dollar for him.
“How much more do you need?” Weaver asked. “Could have got more, whatever. Who cares?”
Weaver, 14-6 with a 2.10 earned-run average this season, is a California guy who’s grateful to stay home. He says he’s perfectly happy living in gorgeous Newport Beach, playing for a perennial playoff contender and eschewing the drama of high-pressure East Coast markets.
“I just knew that I wanted to stay in Anaheim for a long period of time,” said Weaver, the AL’s starter in last month’s all-star game. “I grew up in an era when guys stayed with one team, and when the Angels said they wanted to get something done, my ears were definitely open. I weighed the options, and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. … I don’t know if it’s too much of a discount. It’s a lot of money in my eyes.”
Indeed, Weaver’s deal is comparable to recent contracts for Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, and it’s bigger than Boston’s deal with John Lackey, who left the Angels before last season for a five-year, $82.5 million windfall.
that’s still drawing criticism from Red Sox fans. Weaver said he just wasn’t interested in chasing “CC Sabathia money.”
“If $85 (million) isn’t enough to take care of my family and other generations of my family, then I’m pretty stupid,” Weaver said, getting a laugh from his fiancee, Kristin Travis.
Weaver’s first deal with the Angels wasn’t nearly so smooth. When the club drafted the former Long Beach State Dirtbag with the 12th overall pick in 2004, Boras and the Angels went through a wrenching one-year negotiation, not reaching a deal until shortly before the deadline in May 2005.
“It was a rough time for me and my family, going through that process,” said Weaver, who also went to arbitration with the Angels last winter, eventually losing his case. “I didn’t want to have that feeling ever again.”
Weaver’s career with the Angels has been mostly spectacular since his major league debut in May 2006. At 78-45, he’s the winningest pitcher in franchise history with at least 100 decisions, and he’s the Angels’ first pitcher to make two straight all-star teams since Chuck Finley 15 years ago.
Weaver led the majors with 233 strikeouts last season, becoming the Angels’ first strikeout king since Nolan Ryan in 1977. Only Hernandez has a better ERA in the AL over the past three seasons (2.99), and only three pitchers have more victories.
“He’s going to be just as good as he was the past several years, and we know he’s going to lead us to where we want to go,” Angels general manager Tony Reagins said.
Weaver grew up a Dodgers fan in Simi Valley, on the opposite end of the Los Angeles metroplex from Orange County. His brother, Jeff, was six years older, but they bonded when Jered went to Long Beach State while Jeff was in the pros.
Jeff Weaver, who turned 35 on Monday, pitched 11 major league seasons while spending time with eight organizations, most recently pitching for the Dodgers last season. Jered Weaver closely watched his older brother’s turbulent two seasons with the New York Yankees in particular, and they factored into his decision to avoid switching teams if possible.
“I know Jeff and Jered spoke quite a bit over the last couple of months,” said Dave Weaver, their father. “Jered has never been about the money. It’s just about enjoying the game for him. In baseball these days, that’s probably taking a discount, but he’s following his heart.”