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weaver dream

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mlbtraderumors is wondering whether we think jeff weaver might be a fit for the cardinals. yesterday ken rosenthal rather casually named the cards as a possible destination for the starter, whose deadline for returning to the dodgers has passed; he can't negotiate with them until may 1. specifically, mlbtrade want to know how much payroll space the cardinals could allocate to weaver if they wanted to sign him. i'm not sure they do want to sign him, nor that i want them to want to sign him . . . . but set those questions aside for now. if they did want to, could they?

at the moment, no -- by my count about $87 million of the projected $90m payroll is spent, and there still is at least one hole in the bullpen to fill. theoretically a weaver signing would be followed by a marquis (or suppan) trade, freeing up some additional payroll room, but keep in mind that if they trade marquis for an outfielder with a roughly equal salary (like for example my fave, brad wilkerson), they won't actually gain anything payroll-wise. so for this to have any chance of working, marquis would have to be dealt for a young, cheap, and possibly unproven player. here's how it might break down:

current payroll clearance: $3m
plus additional clearance w trade of marquis: $4m
minus presumed cost of fe'x rodriguez: $2m
equals remainder available for weaver: $5m

not enough, but maybe close. weaver -- a scott boras client -- is said to be looking for a deal similar to what the boras-repped kevin millwood and jerrod washburn received, ie $10m a year over 4-5 years. i don't think he's gonna get it -- budgets are pretty well exhausted around mlb, and weaver is just not that good a pitcher. my guess is he settles for something more like matt morris-paul byrd money, ie $8m-$9m a year over 3 years.

so if the cards were just dying to accommodate weaver within their stated payroll limit, they could:

  1. sign a cheaper reliever (eg jeff nelson) instead of felix rodriguez, and devote all of their payroll clearance to weaver
  2. flex their payroll to $92m and backload the contract, with only $6m-$7m showing up on the current-year payroll
  3. trade marquis for a young and cheap setup man, eliminating the need to spend any of their payroll clearance on a reliever and letting them devote the entire amount to weaver
i don't think any of this is terribly likely, and here's why: jason marquis is just as good as weaver and can probably be signed to an extension for far less money than what weaver is seeking. they already have six starting pitchers; do they really need to have a seventh before they feel comfortable making a trade? this is a cautious front office, but it's not that cautious. moreover, it's a bargain-oriented operation; bidding against six other teams (or whatever it is) for a scott boras client is no way to beat the market.

so i guess my answer is: yes, there are knots the cardinals could tie themselves into in order to fit jeff weaver into the payroll; but no, i don't think they would be inclined to go that route.

speaking of free-agent pitchers, idle thought: when julian tavarez goes into the hall of fame, will he go in as a cardinal or a red sock?