OAKLAND, Calif., July 6 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees late Friday night acquired ace righthander Jeff Weaver from the Detroit Tigers deal that sent southpaw Ted Lilly to the Oakland Athletics and Oakland first baseman Carlos Peña to the Tigers.
The A's were the hinge of the deal, first sending Peña, pitching prospect Franklyn German and a player to be named later to the Tigers for Weaver and cash. Then came the swap that sent Weaver to New York in exchange for Lilly and minor-leaguers John-Ford Griffin and Jason Arnold.
Weaver, 25, is 6-8 with a 3.18 ERA and three shutouts this season. Last year, he openly questioned the commitment of Detroit's management to winning.
"I'm very happy to be heading to the Yankees because I know they're in a position to win and win now," said the 6-5, 200-pound Weaver, who was in his Boston hotel room early Saturday morning when he got news of the deal shortly after the Tigers' 9-5 win over the Red Sox. "Certainly, [the Tigers] are in a rebuilding process, and I feel I can go in and contribute right away to the Yankees staff."
"It's going to be great to sit next to (Roger) Clemens, (Mike) Mussina, (David) Wells, (Andy) Pettitte and all those guys. They know how to win, and I think I do, too."
Last year, he was fourth in the AL in complete games (five) and fifth in innings pitched (229 1/3).
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said the acquisition of Weaver was long in the works.
"I'd been talking to Detroit for quite some time, but with some of the injuries that hit our organization, our discussions broke off," Cashman said. "(Oakland GM) Billy Beane picked up the discussions and engaged me. It didn't take long. This started fostering itself in the last few days, to the point we're at now. We're in a now mode, and this is another sure sign that this team is dead serious about what we're trying to accomplish on the field right now. (It's a) great credit to our scouting staff, especially where we're picking in the draft. To be able to make the right choices to put us in position to get Jeff Weaver, that's incredible. A lot of credit goes to those guys."
Beane said there was a simple explanation as to why the A's did not keep Weaver: money. He's scheduled to earn $2.35 million this season, and is signed through 2005. His four-year deal signed before the season started is worth $22 million.
"Obviously, Weaver is a very talented pitcher, but some things are cost prohibitive," Beane said. "In time there would have been some financial concerns. Lilly is a one-plus player (two years from free agency) who has had success at the Major League level and will be around for years to come."
Lilly, 26, a 6-0, 185-pound lefthander, is 3-6 with a 3.40 ERA. Beane called him a "front-line starting pitcher" who will join an Oakland rotation that already includes Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito.
That means either rookie Aaron Harang, 24, or Cory Lidle, 30, will be the odd man out among A's starters. Without getting specific, Beane hinted that another deal involving a starter could be in the works.
"Getting young starting pitching is the hardest asset to acquire in this market," Beane said.
Tigers President and CEO David Dombrowski said it was difficult parting with Weaver, but the team felt a need to look to the future.
"We could wind up years from now wanting [Weaver] on our staff when we are ready to compete, but right now I had to make the decision on how would we get better," Dombrowski said. "We're not close to where we want to be right now, and we felt in making this trade, we're giving a quality starter and getting three quality players in return. That's what we were trying to do."
Peña, acquired by Oakland in a six-player deal with Texas in the offseason, was named the American League's Rookie of the Month for April after hitting seven homers and driving in 16 runs. But the 6-2, 210-pounder he was sent to Triple-A Sacramento on May 21 while in a 4-for-40 slide that dropped his average to .218. He hit .218 in 40 games with Sacramento.
"Obviously, Peña was a major part of this deal," Beane said. "I know the question is going to be, 'Did you give up on Carlos?' No. That's not even close to the case, but any time you acquire a player of talent, you're going to have to give something up. Every time we make a move, we have to give up an asset."
Griffin, an outfielder, and Arnold, a righthanded pitcher, were New York's top two picks in the June draft last year, and both were with the Yankees' Double-A club. German, a righthander, has been in the A's organization since 1997 and this year was 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA and 16 saves at Double-A.