This afternoon, news broke that the Yankees had signed free-agent pitcher Luke Weaver to a one-year contract worth $2 million. There is also a club option within the detail for 2025 and the money can max out at $8.25 million total, per Robert Murray of FanSided:
Free-agent pitcher Luke Weaver and the New York Yankees are in agreement on a one-year, $2 million contract, pending physical, according to a source familiar with the deal. The deal includes a club option for 2025 and can max out at $8.25 million.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 11, 2024
Additionally, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported that there are bonuses tacked on to Weaver’s $2 million in 2024, and depending on how many innings he pitches this upcoming season, his club option could max out as high as $6 million for 2025.
The now-30-year-old Weaver has been a bit of a journeyman of late. Ranked as Baseball America’s 50th-best prospect prior to the start of 2017, Weaver began his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, pitching in a total of 52 games for the club (most of which came in 2018 with 30 games, 25 of them starts). But he was shipped off to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the package that brought future NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals.
Following three and a half seasons in Arizona — where Weaver started at least 12 games every year and had his best season production-wise in 2019 — he was moved to the Kansas City Royals for third baseman Emmanuel Rivera. His stint in KC was short-lived, as he was selected off waivers in the offseason by the Seattle Mariners, only to be non-tendered a month later.
In 2023, Weaver bounced around three different teams, starting with the Cincinnati Reds, where he started 21 games and pitched almost 100 innings but his production wasn’t where it needed to be, sporting a 6.87 ERA. He was released in mid-August and signed a minor league contract with those very same Mariners, and after that stint didn’t work out, he was claimed off waivers by the Yankees.
Now, we end up back where we started, with Weaver signing a contract to remain with the Yankees and help fill out the back of their pitching staff.
The right-hander had a 3.38 ERA, 4.46 FIP, and a 3.64 xFIP across 13.1 innings pitched in New York down the stretch in September. Yes, it’s a very small sample size. However, there are some tools that might be useful, including a cutter that Weaver resurrected, according to Smith Brickner of Baseball Prospectus.
Luke Weaver re-introduced a cutter to his arsenal that gradually got better over the last 3 months of the season. Just something to monitor for this season.— Smith Brickner (@SmithBrickner) January 11, 2024
Weaver won’t likely be one of the bigger parts of the Yankees pitching staff, but as we’ve seen in recent seasons, every player in the staff needs to be ready to go on a moment’s notice. Although he’s not an enticing starter at the moment, with Michael King, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vásquez now in San Diego, they needed to bolster their depth in some way.
If Weaver can find his stride with his cutter and contribute valuable innings when needed, he will carve out a role of some kind in the Bronx. With an MLB deal in hand, he’ll get his shot.