In case you hadn't noticed, Jered Weaver is awesome right now. Like totally, awesomely awesome.
As with all things awesome, the general assumption is that Weaver is now destined to take his act to Broadway by signing with the Yankees the second he hits free agency after next season, if not sooner. But, as my old algebra teacher used to say, when you assume all you do is make an Ass out of U and Me. Well, in this case, you are only really making an ass out of yourself because I'm not buying the hype that Weaver is destined to don the pinstripes.
While much of the free-thinking baseball world holds firm to the belief that any and every player that ascends to stardom is morally and ethically obligated to follow the money train to the Bronx, that just isn't the case. Everyone outside of New York City loves to hate the Evil Empire that is the Yankees, but their days of gobbling up every single All-Star on the market are behind them.
Take for example last off-season. Cliff Lee was the prize pitcher of the 2011 free agent class. Everyone knew he was going to get a big contract and everyone also knew that the Yanks were desperate to land another elite arm to their rotation. One could argue that there hasn't been a better free agency match in years. So what happened? Lee ended up wearing pinstripes alright, just not the ones the Bronx Bombers sport.
Lee's rejection of the Yanks was no fluke either. The off-season before Lee spurned New York's advances, Felix Hernandez essentially did the same thing. Entering his second year of arbitration, King Felix was the hottest up-and-coming arm in the league and was about to get really expensive while playing for a team that appears to be heading nowhere fast. This confluence of circumstances sent the Yankee conspiracy theorists into a tizzy of speculation about when, not if, the Steinbrenners would get their dirty mitts on Hernandez. Once again, it was not meant to be. Felix ended up inking a lucrative contract extension through 2014 to keep him in Seattle when he very easily could've refused to talk about an extension at all, making it abundantly clear to Seattle management that he was going to bolt for greener pastures as soon as he got the chance, thus expediting that seemingly inevitable trade to the Big Apple.
Which brings us back to Weaver. Will the third time be the charm for the Yankees as they seek out another ace to pair with CC Sabathia? Sorry, folks, it isn't going to happen (and I swear that isn't the biased Angel fan in me speaking).
As Lee and Hernandez so perfectly illustrated, not every single professional athlete is seeking out the biggest possible payday and nothing more. There are plenty of players out there willing to ignore New York's deep pockets for more personal reasons and Weaver very much seems to be cut from the same mold as Lee and Felix.
Luring Weaver to the Bronx is going to take a lot more than a truckload of cash. When it comes to Jered having hometown loyalty to the team he came up with, the devotion couldn't run much deeper. Weaver isn't just a player that feels a debt of gratitude to the team that drafted and developed him, his obligation is to his actual hometown. Not only was Weaver was born and raised in Northridge (which is just half an hour from Anaheim), he went to college at California State University - Long Beach (about an hour from Anaheim), where he came to prominence as one of the top college pitchers of the decade. Heck, just look at the guy. With that long "surfer dude" hair, his casual gait and laid back demeanor, you couldn't draw up a more stereotypical California guy if you tried. As if that weren't enough, Weaver has spoken openly in recent weeks about how he dreams about breaking every Angel pitching record on the books, after all, he did grow up rooting for the Halos. Long story short, the guy has pretty much spent his entire life under the shadow of the Big A, so don't expect him to suddenly push aside the only world he has ever known in favor of a few extra million dollars and the complete polar opposite lifestyle he would be forced to live in New York. Sorry, Yankee fans, you'll have to find your next ace elsewhere.
Actually, that urgent need to find a second top pitcher to pair with Sabathia might exclude the Yankees from ever even getting a shot at Weaver. Whether the rest of the league agrees or not, the Angels consider themselves contenders and as such, they aren't about to trade away Weaver. Therefore if the Yankees really want him, they'll have to wait all of this season and the next to even have a chance at bringing him over to the dark side. Last time I checked, patience was not a virtue the Yankees possess. They want that additional top-of-the-rotation starter yesterday and will no doubt find a way to fill that need long before Weaver even sniffs the free agent market.
Ironically, if the Angels do lose Weaver for financial reasons, it will be a self-inflicted wound rather than the Yankees delivering the fatal blow. In their haste to make up for failing to sign Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre, the Halos made the much-maligned trade for Vernon Wells and his albatross of a contract. A contract so expensive that it could prevent the team from making a strong enough offer to keep Weaver around, even if he really wants to stay. And then, of course, there is the ever-contentious relationship between Weaver's agent, the dreaded Scott Boras, and Angel owner Arte Moreno. If Moreno can't find away to put his personal feud with Boras behind him, he might as well just buy a plane ticket to New York for Weaver himself.
It isn't that there is no chance of the Yankees winding up snagging Weaver, it is just that the odds are very clearly far less than the 100% chance the general public seems to think it is.