Since his debut in 2006 at the age of 23, Jered Weaver has emerged as one of the games elite starters.
Last season, Weaver earned his first All Star selection and finished fifth in Cy Young voting while leading the majors with 233 strikeouts.
Somehow, Weaver has managed to stay under the radar outside of Anaheim. His success and talents are no secret to Angels fans however.
For his career, Weaver has compiled a record of 65-39 with a 3.52 ERA and 7.8 SO/9 and 2.5 BB/9 ratio. Weaver has achieved a 20.2 WAR (wins above replacement) over his first five seasons.
This past offseason, Weaver was forced to endure the never pleasant process of listening to your employer pick apart your game and point out your flaws as they attempt to beat you in the arbitration process in hopes of saving on your salary for the upcoming season.
The Angels defeated Weaver in his arbitration case in early February; as a result, the Angels will pay Weaver $7.365 million instead of the $8.8 million salary he requested.
Seventeen players have lost their arbitration hearings dating back to 2005; only one of those players (Wandy Rodriguez of the Houston Astros) has re-signed with their original team.
Typically, teams will avoid going to arbitration with their star players out of fear of upsetting the player and increasing the likelihood that the player will depart for free agency. The two sides usually agree on a salary in the middle of the numbers the two sides exchanged leading up to the arbitration process; the Angels never made a midpoint offer to Weaver, however.
Angels owner Arte Moreno has held a grudge against Weaver's agent, Scott Boras, dating back to 2008 when talks failed to keep Mark Teixeira in Anaheim.
Speaking at Vernon Wells' introductory press conference in January, Moreno had this to say to ESPN's Mark Saxon:
"My mother always told me, 'If you don't have something nice to say about somebody, don't say anything, I don't have to deal with anybody I don't have to deal with. That's the way I live my life."
Following the arbitration process, the Angels began extension talks with Weaver and Boras in hopes of locking up the final years of arbitration and perhaps delaying Weaver's free agency by a few years.
Reportedly, talks broke down before any progress was made.
"From my understanding, it didn't go anywhere," Weaver told AOL's Josh Alper. "I'm open to it. I would love to play with the Angels for a long time, and if we can get something done, we will. But I don't want it hanging over my head through the season."
Weaver will not reach free agency until after the conclusion of the 2012 season; however the bad blood between the Angels and Scott Boras could affect Anaheim's ability to reach a new deal with their ace during the upcoming offseason.
With questions about whether the Angels will be able to retain his services following next season, trading Weaver while he still has a year of club control could maximize his value and net the Angels a nice package of prospects if they were to trade him before the deadline this year.
The American League West is wide open this season and the Angels will almost certainly keep Weaver if they find themselves in contention as the deadline approaches.
If the Angels have fallen out of the race however, they may shop their ace around in hopes of being blown away by a package of prospects that will help them compete long-term in the division with the young core of talent the Oakland Athletics have put together.
If Weaver is made available there are no shortage of teams that would pick up the phone and make a call to Angel's general manager Tony Reagins.
Texas Rangers: While it is unlikely that the Angels would trade Weaver within the division, the Rangers did acquire Cliff Lee last season from the Seattle Mariners to help propel them into the playoffs and World Series.
The Rangers will be competitive this season with both the Angels and Athletics for the division title. If Brandon Webb's health does not hold up, or any of the other starters are unable to repeat their success from last season, the Rangers could look to Anaheim for help.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox have a solid rotation already, but Jake Peavy's rotator cuff problems could have them looking for another starter to help them remain in contention in the AL Central against the Minnesota Twins.
New York Yankees: The Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee during the offseason and lost Andy Pettitte to retirement.
The Yankees rotation still boasts C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett, but the Yankees are never shy about overspending for a player that can help them in their quest to win a World Series.
With Felix Hernandez likely off the market and unobtainable, the Yankees would definitely be a team with interest in Weaver.
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox may not have a need for Weaver if Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey pitch better than they did in 2010—that is a big IF though.
Even if their rotation is looking solid around the trade deadline, Boston would still get involved just to drive up the price for the Yankees.
The Dodgers have a history with the Weaver family as they previously employed Jered's older brother, Jeff. A 1-2 combination of Clayton Kershaw and Jered Weaver would definitely help the Dodgers make a playoff push in the second half of the season.
St. Louis Cardinals: Like the Dodgers, the Cardinals have a history with the Weaver family. St. Louis could trade for Weaver to help make perhaps one final run at a World Series appearance while Albert Pujols is still with the team.
A trade for Weaver could also be a sign to Pujols that the Cardinals are committed to bringing in top talent to help him carry the Cardinals deep into the postseason annually.
Prediction: The Angels will remain in contention through the trade deadline and keep Jered Weaver.
GM Tony Reagins will reopen extension talks following the conclusion of the season, but they will not progress to a new deal and Weaver will be traded during the offseason to the New York Yankees.
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