Loyalty means something to Jered Weaver, now an Angel through 2016
Jered Weaver endeared himself to a legion of sports fans, if not his agent, on Tuesday when he acknowledged granting a considerable hometown discount to sign a five-year, $85-million contract extension with the Angels.
The 28-year-old right-hander and two-time All-Star, who grew up in Simi Valley and played college baseball at Long Beach State, would have become a free agent after 2012.
With another standout season like the one Weaver is having—he’s 14-6 with a major league-leading 2.10 earned-run average—he might have been in line for a contract like the seven-year, $161-million deal CC Sabathia signed with the New York Yankees before 2009.
Angels fans were skeptical Weaver would remain in Anaheim after he became a free agent because Weaver’s agent, Scott Boras, prefers his clients go to free agency, where they can earn maximum dollars.
But when the Angels approached Weaver about a contract extension a few weeks ago, Weaver instructed Boras to get the deal done, even if that meant leaving at least $30 million on the table.
“How much more money do you need?” Weaver said, eliciting roars from a few hundred fans on hand at Angel Stadium for a news conference to officially announce the deal. “I’ve never played this game for money. I play it for love and for championships.
“There comes a point in time when you do have to deal with the business side of things, but I don’t think money had anything to do with my decision. I could have gotten more, whatever, who cares? I’m here, and that’s all I care about.”
Boras was out of town and not at Tuesday’s news conference, but he was quoted about Weaver in Tuesday’s editions of USA Today.
“He knows his value,” Boras said. “He knows not becoming a free agent would cost him millions and millions of dollars. But the necessity to stay home was compelling.”
Did Weaver, who is 78-45 with a 3.30 career ERA in six seasons, go against the advice of his agent to sign with the Angels?
“Scott is who he is,” Weaver said. “A lot of people know him to go out there and get the most, but I told him money wasn’t an option for me. I’m very secure with what I have here. It was my decision. He showed me what options are, I told him I wanted to be an Angel, to stay in Southern California and be comfortable, and he worked with that. It didn’t take too much twisting of arms to get this done.”
In a later interview, Weaver was asked why he is different from so many professional athletes who hold out for top dollar, regardless of loyalties to the team they are with.
“It’s the way I was brought up,” Weaver said. “If $85 million is not enough to take care of my family and other generations of my family, then you’re stupid. I play baseball for the love of the game, for the competitive part of it.”
Photo: Angels pitcher Jered Weaver. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images