San Diego Padres to Add Jered Weaver

With a dearth of available major league pitching, the San Diego Padres will sign veteran starter Jered Weaver to a one-year, $3 million deal.

Some pitchers find success due to their overpowering stuff. Others due to pinpoint command. Unfortunately for Jered Weaver, baseball in time strips away both.

After spending his entire career with the Los Angeles Angels, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the San Diego Padres have an agreement with the right-hander. The deal will see Weaver in San Diego on a one-year deal with a guarantee of $3 million, with an extra $250,000 available through performance incentives (courtesy of SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo).

Now Weaver, a three-time All-Star with the Angels, will look to continue an admirable 13-year career with the San Diego Padres – his first new uniform since being drafted by the Halos in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft. Coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, Weaver posted an uninspiring 5.06 ERA in 178 innings in 2016. FIP didn’t view his work any more favorably, sporting a 5.62 mark in that metric to go along with 5.21 K/9 and 2.81 BB/9. All of this added up to an almost impressive -0.2 WAR for the former 12th overall pick.

For Weaver, the deal represents a chance at a bounce-back season in a historically pitcher-friendly environment at Petco Park. Meanwhile the Padres in Weaver have bought themselves a reliable source of innings for a rotation that threatens to feature Jarred Cosart when they open their campaign against the Dodgers. With the Padres’ top young pitchers still a few years away from contributing and the team as a whole in full-blown rebuild mode, the team will hope that Weaver can provide some quality innings in what projects to be a long season for the Friars.

A Deeper Dive

With $3 million (though not a significant sum) and some 180 innings invested in Weaver, the Padres enter spring training hoping the right-hander has something left to offer after 13 years and some 2,025 innings on his arm. Unfortunately for the Padres, Weaver’s velo chart looks something like this:

In baseball, nothing exists in isolation, so while we’re at it let’s take a quick look at Weaver’s zone profile starting with his 2010-2014 seasons:

Aaaaaand, the 2015-16 seasons:

Looking through Weaver’s zone profile, two clear patterns can be observed. Firstly, as Weaver’s velocity has steadily declined, Weaver has been hesitant to challenge hitters up and in in favor of pitches down and away to right-handers. Secondly, more pitches have found their way to the middle of the zone – a poor outcome for any pitcher yet alone one sitting in the mid-80s. Both of these trends appear to be in the interest of damage control – avoiding pitches in the zone to prevent the long ball and more pitches over the plate to limit walks.

However, for Weaver neither of these methods proved overly effective. Always an extreme fly-ball pitcher, Weaver’s ground-ball percentage dropped to an alarming 28.8 percent in 2016. This coincided with a equally alarming jump in HR/FB% up to 12.7 percent last season.

The Bottom Line

The good news for both Weaver and the Padres is that he will have the luxury of pitching his home games at Petco Park, which has boasted pitcher-friendly marks in regard to both basic park factors (96, where 100 equals the league average) and home runs (98). If Petco can turn more of Weaver’s home runs into routine fly balls, then the Padres may have found themselves a serviceable back-end starter at well below the market rate.

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