In the face of the Vernon Wells trade, a lot was said regarding the Angels insistence on going to arbitration with SP Jered Weaver. When the two sides exchanged figures in mid-January, Weaver requested $8.8M, while the Angels countered with $7.365M. The fact that the two sides negotiated for a month, and still couldn’t come to an agreement, despite being less than $1.5M apart, seems a little silly. Yesterday, the two sides appeared before an arbitrator, and the Angels won their case.
When I first saw the figures that that the two sides exchanged, I thought Weaver would win his case easily, should it come to the point of appearing before an arbitrator. It did get to that point, and I was wrong. I’m not really sure why though. The only thing I can come up with is that the arbitrator was an old school baseball fan. Once he looked at Weaver’s ho-hum 13-12 record, he made his decision to award the case to the Angels. Of course, I’m purely speculating, but that’s the only logical answer I’ve come up with so far.
Looking beyond his virtually meaningless won-loss record, you see that Weaver easily put together his best season to date. In 2010, he posted a 3.06 FIP, 9.35 K/9, 4.36 K/BB, and 5.9 wins above the replacement level as the Angels staff ace. After doing a quick 5/4/3 WAR calculation, I found that Weaver’s true talent level is around 4.5-5.0 WAR. At $5M per win, Weaver was projected to be worth $22-25M in 2011. While players, especially those in their pre-free agency years, rarely get paid a salary on par with their true value, two things are pretty clear: (1) the arbitrator made a huge mistake in awarding victory to the Angels and (2) the Angels are getting a ton of value for a near ace quality pitcher.