05.31.05

Angels Sign (The Other) J. Weaver

Posted in Baseball at 8:50 am by

On the brink of his re-entry into the Amateur Draft, P Jered Weaver has come to terms with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Which Is Located On Planet Earth, writes the LA Times’ Mike DiGiovanna.

In the negotiating equivalent of a game-winning, 65-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass with the final seconds ticking off the clock, the Angels and 2004 first-round pick Jered Weaver agreed to a $4-million signing bonus in the final hour before Monday’s 9 p.m. deadline to sign the former Long Beach State ace.

With the sides at an impasse for almost a year and about $1.5 million apart going into the weekend, Weaver, the 12th overall pick in last June’s draft, essentially yielded to the Angels’ demands, agreeing to a minor league deal, pending the passing of a physical this week, for the same amount offered to the right-hander in late February.

Had Weaver, 22, not signed Monday he would have reentered next week’s draft, a prospect that seemed to grow less attractive by the hour Monday, considering there was no guarantee the team that drafted Weaver would accede to his demands, especially knowing Weaver probably wouldn’t sit out a second consecutive season.

“I had no indication that this was going to happen, really, until [Monday], and it still took most of the day,” Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman said on a conference call. “There were a lot of last-minute discussions. It was finally completed fairly close to the deadline.”

Though the Angels’ hard-line stance in negotiations clearly paid off ” it was Weaver who blinked in what seemed like a high-stakes game of chicken, but it was Weaver who initiated talks that led to the agreement and who compromised the most.

Weaver, who went 15-1 with a 1.62 earned run average at Long Beach last season, striking out 213 and walking 21 in 144 innings and winning the Golden Spikes Award, sought a signing package in the $10-million range before dropping his asking price to $8 million in March to $6 million last week.

Negotiations grew testy at times, with Boras criticizing the Angels for selecting Weaver when they had no intention of meeting his original asking price, Stoneman accusing Boras of putting “a spin on it to make it look like he’s made major concessions to get a deal done,” and Angel scouting director Eddie Bane rebutting Boras’ claim that Weaver could be ready to pitch in the big leagues this season.

Weaver even went so far as to sign with the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League this month, but he did not pitch in a regular-season game. Instead, Weaver will return to Southern California this week, and speculation about when he can help the Angels’ big league club can really begin.

“I just don’t know enough about him,” Stoneman said, when asked how close to the big leagues Weaver is. “He hasn’t pitched competitively in a year, and we’re not sure what kind of shape he’s in. We definitely don’t want to rush things ¦ but as soon as he’s ready for a challenge, we want to give him one.

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