Weaver Draws Interest

Times Staff Writer

The Angels have expressed serious interest in free-agent pitcher Jeff Weaver, but a deal to sign the former Dodger right-hander could hinge on Weaver’s willingness to accept a short-term contract.

The Boston Red Sox also made another strong push to trade disgruntled slugger Manny Ramirez to the Angels this past week, but talks bogged down again, with the Angels balking at Boston’s asking price.

Weaver, who went 14-11 with a 4.22 earned-run average for the Dodgers last season, was originally seeking a deal in the four-year, $45-million range.

After rejecting arbitration, Weaver told the Dodgers he’d sign a three-year, $27-million deal with a fourth-year vesting option, but a Jan. 8 deadline passed without an agreement and Weaver became a free agent.

The Angels are willing to boost their $95-million payroll, and they believe the addition of Weaver to a staff featuring Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana would give them one of baseball’s strongest rotations.


Signing Weaver, 29, would also enable the Angels to move projected fifth starter Hector Carrasco to the bullpen, strengthening the relief corps, and provide some starting pitching depth.

But according to several sources, the most the Angels are willing to offer Weaver is a one-year deal with an option for 2007, because the team doesn’t want to block the paths of prospects such as Jered Weaver, Jeff’s younger brother, and Joe Saunders, who could both compete for rotation spots this spring.

The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets also are believed to be interested in Weaver, but the Simi Valley native’s desire to remain in Southern California could give the Angels the edge.

As for Ramirez, who would provide a considerable boost to a power-starved Angel lineup, the chances for a deal still seem remote despite negotiations between the teams --rekindled by the Red Sox -- this week.

Boston was believed to have asked for at least four players -- Santana, utility player Chone Figgins and two or three of the Angels’ top four prospects, a list that includes shortstop Brandon Wood and second baseman Howie Kendrick. The Red Sox also wanted the Angels to assume virtually all of the $57 million remaining on Ramirez’s contract, which runs through 2008.