Four Pitchers Who Could Get A Jered Weaver-Type Extension

MILWAUKEE, WI - Zack Greinke #13 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

If Jered Weaver didn't call up Scott Boras and say, "Give me a Verlander, but with a little something more for yourself, Scotty," that's probably because his nickname for Boras is "Skeech," not "Scotty." But he certainly could have said that, and it would have made sense. Weaver's  five-year, $85 million extension is right in line with the ones received by Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez in recent years.

The contract is less than what Weaver would get if he were on the open market tomorrow, but now he doesn't have to sweat making it through 2012 without a major injury. That's sort of the point of an extension like this -- everyone gets to be happy, unlike Evan Longoria after his extension, which left the infielder with only enough money for a single cap. And the list of under-30 pitchers who could hit the free agent market soon is shrinking. Here are four pitchers who could look at the contract Weaver received, pick up a phone, and call their agent.

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Matt Cain
Why it's a good comparison

Cain is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2012 season, just as Weaver was before the extension. Cain's ERA+ since 2008 is 130; Weaver's is 127. They've been durable and effective from the moment they were called up.

Why it doesn't quite fit
Weaver is getting his extension in the middle of his best-ever season, and he's is in the running for the Cy Young. Cain is more known for being steady and consistent -- he pitches 200 innings every year with an ERA between 2.80 and 3.80. That's his thing.

Plus, he's not even .500 for his career. I mean, sheesh.

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Cole Hamels
Why it's a good comparison

Player ERA+ IP From To Age G GS CG SHO BB SO ERA HR
Jered Weaver 127 800.1 2008 2011 25-28 123 123 8 4 216 717 3.28 81
Cole Hamels 126 801.2 2008 2011 24-27 123 123 7 4 192 730 3.28 88
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/21/2011.

There are similar pitchers, and then there are these two. It's as if they hatched from the same egg, almost identical except for the fact that they use different hands to tuck their stylish locks behind their ears.

Why it doesn't quite fit
The longer the Phillies wait to extend Hamels, the longer they'll have to assess exactly which direction the team is going in. Will Vance Worley be a top-of-the-rotation candidate? Will Roy Oswalt re-sign for a cheapish short-term deal? Will Ryan Howard's contract extension have other, smaller contract extensions orbiting around it?

There's only a slight chance that the Phillies will let Hamels go, but it's also fairly unlikely that they're in any hurry to lock up another pitcher just yet.

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Tim Lincecum
Why it's a good comparison

Lincecum is having a fantastic season, just like Weaver. Both were first-round picks who didn't spend a lot of time in the minors, nor have they spent much time struggling at any point in their careers -- from the moment they were called up, they've been mostly excellent.

Why it doesn't quite fit
The Lincecum of 2011 is pretty close to the Lincecum of 2008, 2009, and 2010 -- a perennial Cy Young candidate --whereas Weaver has only recently been the kind of pitcher who garners Cy Young votes. Plus, Lincecum's free agency won't come until after the 2013 season under his current deal, which allows the Giants a little extra time before they have to commit.

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Zack Greinke
Why it's a good comparison

Greinke has the exact same ERA+ as Weaver since 2008, both pitchers are known for their excellent control, and Greinke is signed through 2012. They were born only a year apart.

Why it doesn't quite fit
While the statistical community is pretty convinced that Greinke has been hosed by poor defense and bad luck over the past two years, his ERA over the past two seasons is 4.08, just a tick above Mike Pelfrey and Jason Vargas. ERA is somewhere between batting average and on-base percentage on the Widely Accepted Statistic Lameness Scale (WASLS), but it still has a lot of clout. There's a chance that the difference between Greinke's ERA and FIP could futz up a possible extension.

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Four pitchers, each with similarities to and slight differences from Weaver. The odds are good that at least a couple of these pitchers sign extensions before they hit free agency, which is good news for teams hoping to hang on to the starting pitching they've developed, and bad news for the teams who hope to poach the best pitchers on the market. The way these extensions are being handed out, the best pitchers on the market might actually be Pelfrey and Vargas in a couple of years.

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