Jered Weaver Goes to Arbitration

The Los Angeles Angels shocked the baseball world this off-season when they traded for Vernon Wells and took on his massive contract. In making the move, the Angels agreed to take on an additional $86 million over the next four seasons. Not even a month later, the Angels are going to arbitration with Jered Weaver over a difference of $1.425 million. Given their willingness to expand their payroll with the acquisition of Wells, it seems silly that the Angels would go to war with their ace over such a small (in baseball terms) amount of money.

There are a number of reasons why this arbitration hearing never needed to take place between Weaver and the Angels. The Angels could have split the difference by offering Weaver $8.08 million, the difference between Weaver’s asking price of $8.8 and the Angels’ offer of $7.375. In this scenario, the Angels are only spending an additional $712.5 thousand to lock up their ace for another season. That seems like a pretty nice bargain for locking up a 28-year-old pitcher coming off the best season of his career.

Instead, the Angels will enter into a process that is often described as “ugly.” While Weaver’s side argues in favor of a raise, representatives from the Angels will point out every flaw in Weaver’s game over the past five seasons. When it’s described in that manner, it’s easy to see how some players could take the arbitration process personally.

Of course, it’s not all that clear what valid arguments the Angels could make during the hearing. Weaver is coming off his strongest season as a pro, in which nearly every one of his peripherals moved in the right direction. His strikeout rate increased from 7.42 to 9.35, while he lowered his walk rate, leading to a career high 5.9 WAR. But as Paul Swydan noted in his latest article, advanced statistics are rarely cited during the arbitration process.

Even if Weaver’s side cannot cite his xFIP, WAR or WPA, they still shouldn’t have a hard time making an argument for Weaver. Even by the most basic statistics, Weaver is coming off a tremendous season in which he led the major leagues in strikeouts. Consistency and effectiveness over a long period of time will play a huge role in the arbiter’s decision, and Weaver has been a model of both since he joined the Angels. Weaver has been a fixture of the Angels rotation from 2006-2010. Over that period, he has remained healthy while increasing his innings pitched and games started in each consecutive season. With that type of history, it’s tough to imagine the Angels winning this arbitration hearing.

That being the case, why the heck would the Angels drag one of their best players through an ugly process over $1.425 million? The acquisition of Wells shows that the Angels aren’t afraid to take on payroll, even though he’s overrated and overpaid. Weaver is a potential franchise player, entering the prime of his career, and the Angels decided they couldn’t shell out any more cash to lock up one of their best players. None of this makes sense from the Angels’ perspective. When the arbiters make their decision, expect Weaver to walk away with a slight pay raise and a slightly bruised ego. For the Angels, this is just another misstep in an off-season gone awry.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


30 Responses to “Jered Weaver Goes to Arbitration”

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  1. Jim says:

    quick edit- ‘manor’ in the third paragraph should be ‘manner.’ unless these arbitration hearings take place in beautiful estates (also likely).

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  2. Ratwar says:

    So let’s see, Angel’s offseason…

    1. Lose out on Crawford ’cause we don’t want to spend the money. Everyone kinda scratches their head at us.
    2. Lose out on Beltre ’cause we don’t want to spend the money. Everyone questions whether we want to win.
    3. Trade for Wells to show that we’re not afraid to spend money and that we want to win. Everyone makes fun of us for overpaying both in money and talent.
    4. Refuse to pay Weaver to show that we are conscious about money. Everyone repeats head scratching.

    Pretty soon the Angel’s will get their own flow chart: http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/273344/flowchart1.png

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    • B N says:

      I can only assume that the Angels are on some sort of warpath to roster as many once-great CF as possible. Between Hunter, Gary Matthews Jr, and now Wells, it seems like all the Angels do is sign CF when they roster position players.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I like the link that shows a screenshot from MLB10 The Show (video game) depicting an e-mail that LAA rejected a trade of River & Napoli for Wells.

      Well played Mr. ZiPS (Dan S.)

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  3. John says:

    The Angels are laughable at this point. I remember a time when I respected the organization, but now that has gone completely down the drain. What a train-wreck.

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  4. tonysoprano says:

    Although I don’t kneel at the Billy Beane altar…I must admit I like his off-season moves this year and can see them winning that division. I can see the Rangers and Angels both in the running but the A’s winning. Mariners should finish fourth.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      Well, with enough luck, we could finish third. It might take as many good breaks as it took for the M’s to win 116 ten years ago, but it could happen.

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    • brendan says:

      I think the As are improved, but still behind the rangers by a good bit (5 wins?). As an oakland fan, I predict 2nd place in the AL west for them.

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  5. SC2GG says:

    Tony Reagin should trade for Omar Minaya.

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  6. CircleChange11 says:

    I agree. This is idiotic.

    [1] He’s a damn good pitcher worth every penny.

    [2] You’re going to sit across from him and basically explain why he’s not worth the money he’s asking for. In other words, you have to focus on his “weaknesses”.

    [3] Then you’ll turn around after the deal, tell him he’s the best and ask him to lead you to the playoffs.

    No sense. If I were a team and wanted the player, I would buy out the arbitration years after time. I don;t think the few million bucks is worth it for enduring the process. Once things are said and done, they cannot be unsaid or undone … sure, there’s a possibility that a future mega-deal makes everything “alright” … but athletes never forget … and they always seem to need a chip on their shoulder for self-motivation. Don’t have the team’s owner/GM be that motivation for the player.

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  7. Matty Brown says:

    MLB Trade Rumors reporting the Angels won the Arbitration case. That is just plain absurd.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/02/angels-beat-jered-weaver-in-arbitration-.html

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  8. miffleball says:

    any chance weaver is the one who isn’t willing to compromise because he realizes that on the free agent market and not the arbitration circuit he’d be worth at least double what he is asking?

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  9. Nick V says:

    I don’t necessarily agree with the pairing of this situation and the Wells trade. They don’t really have anything to do with one another. A team deciding to go to arb with a guy might or might not be a good decision, but it has little to do with Vernon Wells. I don’t think it’s hypocritical of a team to make an extravagant aqcuisition on one hand and then be frugal on another.

    The argument should be whether Weaver is worth X or Y, but this would hardly be a big deal (as many have mentioned, we’re talking about a small sum in baseball salaray terms) if it didn’t give people another chance to take a dump on the Wells trade (about which enough has been said).

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  10. Josh says:

    wwwwwoooowwwww

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  11. Albert Lyu says:

    Tango had a pretty good perspective about this particular hearing. If it’s a prelude to an eventual extension with Weaver, it’d work out:
    http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/weaver_to_lincecum_or_not_to_lincecum_that_is_the_arbitrators_question/

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    • AustinRHL says:

      Yes, exactly. The Angels had justification to offer what they did – if he gets paid less now, he’ll get paid less down the road. They had the potential to save a lot more than 0.7 or 1.4 million dollars in the long term, and fortunately for them, they realized that potential.

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  12. hunterfan says:

    Is it possible Scott Boras simply isn’t as successful in arbitration hearings as he is in getting the max $$ out of his clients in FA? He seems to lose more than his fair share of these hearings.

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    • Hank says:

      Well the “phantom team X” is interested leak to the media generally doesn’t work in arbitration as they tend to want facts and numbers – while you can argue they look at the wrong set of numbers, Boras operates on rumor and painting a picture and I don’t see that playing well in an arbitration hearing.

      I think a lot of his success is playing one team off another (or as I mentioned making up a team)…. there is no other team willing to offer more money when you are in an arbitration hearing.

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    • Davor says:

      Also, Boras likes to compare his players in best case scenario. It usually fails in arbitration. For example, Angels only needed to say that Weaver isn’t as good as at time two-time defending Cy Young winner was at the same point in the career, but merely as good as King Felix was.

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  13. pft says:

    Weaver was a legitimate Cy Young candidate last year. I guess they look at his career numbers more than his last season though.

    I don’t imagine Jered Weaver will be much inclined to offer a home town discount in any extension talks or when he becomes a FA. Pretty dumb going to arbitration over that small difference with a guy who is your ace. Angels need to dump that GM of theirs, he is clueless.

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    • Davor says:

      Weaver is Boras’ client. No way he signs extension. And if he signs, 1.4M now means at least 20M more for 5 year extension.

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      • AA says:

        Boras clients will sign long term if it makes sense for them. While people say a lot of things about him, Boras is a former player and very focused on the best interests of his client.

        I think its pretty clear that the Angels went to this hearing because of Arte Moreno’s sudden hatred of Boras. Something happened with them between Adenhart’s death and now that somehow pissed Moreno off and he’s holding a grudge.

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