Had Jered Weaver been a free agent three years ago, the entire baseball world would be watching and waiting to see which giant deal he would take.
But the Jered Weaver of 2016 is not the Jered Weaver that posted a 3.28 ERA from 2006-2014. He’s not the same Jered Weaver that finished in the top-five in AL Cy Young voting in three straight seasons. He went 12-12 with a 5.06 ERA last season, so that’s not going to put him at the top of anyone’s watch list.
But Weaver is still a versatile veteran who can eat innings and come cheap for a team that needs a stop-gap starter at the back of the rotation. He likely won’t command more than a one-year deal at a low salary, and this makes him especially enticing for the Mets now that Bartolo Colon has left for Atlanta.
Finding another starting pitcher is probably more of a luxury for the Mets, who currently have seven if you include Zack Wheeler. But you know the Mets: injuries are going to happen. Four of their five core pitchers ended last season on the DL, so expecting all of them to be healthy again this season might not be a sure thing. But the Mets also have one of the most stacked rotations in baseball, so they can’t break the bank here either.
This is why Weaver specifically is so appealing here. He’s made at least 24 starts in every season since 2007, and pitched in 178 innings this year. He’s usually pretty reliable from a health standpoint, and he is not going to cost the team that much either from a dollars standpoint. He also comes with a wide breadth of knowledge acquired during his decade in the majors, which could help some of the younger players.
The 34-year-old Weaver is also a reclamation project with potential to turn his career around. His velocity struggles have been well documented; there were times last season where his fastball was barely registering over 80 miles per hour on the gun. But this velocity was creeping back up a bit at the end of the season, and he ended up with an average fastball velocity of 84.0 miles per hour, according to Fangraphs.
And he was never much of a power pitcher to begin with. In 2014, when he led the AL with 18 wins while posting a 3.59 ERA, his average velocity was only 86.8. So if he can get back into the mid-80s on a consistent basis, he could possibly become a serviceable starting pitcher again. He could also be helped by a move to the NL and to a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
The Mets may not end up signing another veteran starting pitcher to a big-league deal after Colon left. But if they do, Jered Weaver is definitely a sensible option.