- Jim Callis, Fantasy
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Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew both agreed to terms minutes before Monday's midnight EDT deadline for signing picks in last year's draft, ending the longest holdouts in draft history.
Weaver, a former Long Beach State right-hander selected 12th overall by the Angels, accepted a $4 million bonus pending a physical. Los Angeles scouting director Eddie Bane said Weaver likely would begin his pro career at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
"Now everybody's happy," Bane said. "We can just talk about baseball now. We're pretty excited."
Drew, a former Florida State shortstop, signed a five-year big league contract with the Diamondbacks, who took him 15th. Drew will receive a $4 million bonus to be paid over four years and is guaranteed at least $5.5 million. He also can make another $2 million in incentives that a source close to the negotiations describes as easily attainable. He'll start his career at high Class A Lancaster, meaning that he could face Weaver in the California League this summer.
"I've always had some sense of optimism that we would get this done," Arizona scouting director Mike Rizzo said. "It's a good fit for him, and a good deal for him when all is said and done."
Rizzo and general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. ironed out a deal with Drew's agent, Scott Boras, after a series of negotiations involving the payout structure and faxed the necessary paperwork to the league office in the final minutes. The budget-conscious Diamondbacks won't make the first bonus payment until the end of this year.
Weaver, also represented by Boras, opted for an up-front bonus over Los Angeles' offer of a $5.25 million major-league contract. In both cases, the teams held firm to offers made earlier this spring (Arizona made a very small restructuring to provide some up-front money) and forced Boras and his clients to meet their price.
"I have a feeling Jered wanted to get it done and join the
Angels," Los Angeles general manager Bill Stoneman said.
"Obviously, we're happy to have him. He was the top player in
college baseball last year."
Boras initially sought Mark Prior money ($10.5 million major-league contract) for Weaver and Mark Teixeira cash ($9.5 million big league deal) for Drew. Weaver was Baseball America's top-rated prospect and Drew the top-rated position player last year, but concerns over their bonus demands caused them to slide in the draft.
Their $4 million bonuses rank as the seventh-highest in draft history for players signing with the team that selected them. Drew's major-league contract is the eighth-largest in draft history.
Weaver, BA's 2004 College Player of the Year, led NCAA Division I in wins (15-1, 1.63) and strikeouts (213, the sixth-most in NCAA history). He has exceptional control of a 91-92 mph fastball, an average curveball, two different sliders and a changeup.
Drew is a five-tool player who should make an impact offensively wherever he winds up on the diamond. He should hit for a high average with solid power and is a top base stealing threat. Most scouts believe Drew can stay at shortstop, though some project him moving to either center field or second base.
With negotiations at a stalemate this spring, both Drew and Weaver joined with the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League. Drew signed April 20 and was leading the league in batting (.427), on-base percentage (.484) and slugging percentage (.744) when he agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks. He went 3-for-4 with a grand slam in his final game Monday, one day after he homered off the top of Camden's 50-foot scoreboard.
Weaver signed with the Riversharks on May 20 and had yet to appear in a game. He threw in a bullpen session Saturday and was scheduled to pitch in relief Tuesday before making his first start Friday. He hasn't worked in a game since the NCAA super-regionals against Arizona last June 11.
"He hasn't pitched competitively in a year, and we're not sure
what kind of shape he's in," Stoneman said. "We definitely do not
want to rush things. But as soon as he's ready for a challenge, we
want to give him one."
Drew and Weaver faced uncertainty had they re-entered the 2005 draft, as teams already were wary of their demands before their lengthy holdouts. They surpassed the stalemate between the Mariners and 1994 first-round pick Jason Varitek (another Boras client), who didn't sign until April 20 the following year.
The Yankees, who have the 17th overall pick this June, reportedly had strong interest in taking Drew if he became available. Weaver's status was more shaky, as several scouting directors expressed concern over a pitcher taking a one-year layoff, and he could have hurt his cause if he didn't pitch lights-out with the Riversharks.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. Jack Magruder (East Valley Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.) also contributed to this story.
Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew ended their holdouts minutes before the deadline to sign last year's draft picks.