ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Hey Milwaukee, don't look!
Cover your ears. Unplug the Internet. Go read up on the Packers or something.
You find out about this, it'll be Strokeville.
But here goes anyway: Scott Boras client, nearly close enough to lean forward and kiss free agency, on deck for mega-bucks ... instead follows his heart and stays home. Swats away free agency like a get-me-over fastball.
"How much more do you need?" Angels ace Jered Weaver asked upon the very public unveiling of his hometown discount, five-year, $85 million deal Tuesday.
"Could have got more," Weaver acknowledged. "Whatever. Who cares?"
|A native of Simi Valley, Weaver makes the unconventional decision that staying put is worth more than extra millions. (US Presswire)|
Cities around the league no doubt will hope this will be precedent-setting. Like Milwaukee, where Prince Fielder, the leading NL MVP contender, is on the launching pad toward free agency this winter (Weaver was just over a year away, after the 2012 season).
Don't count on it. Fielder, for one, has the power to become another notch in a long line of benchmark free-agent contracts. And they don't make many like Weaver, whose single-minded focus (baseball) and homegrown status (Simi Valley, Calif., native) caused him to tell his agent to cut a deal no matter how many visions of sugar plums were dangled in front of him.
"I told him money wasn't really an option for me," Weaver said. "He worked with that."
At 28, Weaver already owns the best winning percentage in club history (minimum 100 decisions) at .634 (78-45). His cumulative 2.99 ERA since 2009 is second in the AL to Seattle's Felix Hernandez (2.66).
He currently leads the AL in ERA (2.10), ranks third in lowest opponents' batting average (.207) and, if not for Detroit's Justin Verlander, would be the leading candidate to win a Cy Young award.
He is the same age, though not quite as accomplished, as CC Sabathia was when Sabathia signed his seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees in the winter of 2008-2009.
You bet, with good health and another ace-type year in 2012, Weaver could have landed in Sabathia's financial ballpark. Or gone even more upscale.
But as Boras always reminds, he works for his clients, and when an unwavering Weaver said the word -- about a month ago, the pitcher said Monday -- that he wanted to stay home in Southern California, the deal came together quickly.
As for potentially leaving Sabathia money on the table, Weaver had a very simple response to that, too.
"How much more do you need?" he asked.
|More on Angels|
It was a response the Angels haven't heard for quite some time. Southern California geography or not, winters for them are usually more frigid than Alaska, and just as dark.
When they traded with Atlanta for Mark Teixeira in July, 2008, they thought it would give them a hometown advantage that winter when he became a free agent. Instead, the Yankees out-flanked them, owner Arte Moreno lost it and that was the start of a Cold War between the Angels (who now do their best to avoid Boras clients) and the agent (who simply has carried on business as usual, playing ball with others and leaving the Angels on their own to figure out the rules).
Presumably so stunned to not be on the receiving end of another paddling, the Angels turned Tuesday's press conference into a major pep rally. They held it outside the stadium gates, on the concourse, and invited fans. Angels legends Bobby Grich and Chuck Finley attended. So did Dave and Gail Weaver, Jered's parents. And his fiancé.
"We all know that if this was going to get done, we had to move quickly as an organization, and that happened," said general manager Tony Reagins of something that usually doesn't.
"From a manager's perspective, the last thing you think about before you go to sleep and the first thing you think about when you wake up is your rotation," Mike Scioscia said. "It's safe to say that 29 other GMs were licking their chops at the thought of Jered becoming a free agent.
"Now we're going to have a situation where they're going to have to sit there and watch Jered pitch great baseball in an Angels uniform for at least the next five years."
Notable by their absences were Moreno, who was said to have attended the owners' meetings in New York last week, and Boras, who surely was somewhere grinding his teeth down to their nubs over the millions Weaver waved away (actually, the agent was back east negotiating contracts for his draft picks).
"I never played this game for money purposes," said Weaver, whose voice cracked with emotion when acknowledging his parents. "I play if for love and for championships."
Like an elite hitter, Boras never, ever gives an at-bat away. In acquiescing to Weaver's wishes, he essentially is in this case.
"If 85 [million] is not enough to take care of my family and generations to come," Weaver said, "then I'm pretty stupid."
To Angels fans everywhere, and to baseball fans old enough to remember when some players actually stayed with one team throughout their careers, he's anything but.