Brewers sign Weaver to Minors deal

Brewers sign Jeff Weaver

ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers finalized an incentive-rich, Minor League contract with veteran right-hander Jeff Weaver on Tuesday evening, pending a physical scheduled for Wednesday in Phoenix.

Weaver is coming off a poor 2007 season with Seattle that left him available on the free-agent market, and the Brewers were depleted in the final week of Spring Training when they lost left-hander Chris Capuano to an elbow injury and decided to release right-hander Claudio Vargas rather than pay his full $3.6 million salary.

Weaver would restore some depth to the organization's starting pitching. General manager Doug Melvin insisted that Weaver's arrival on the scene did not signal any impending trade.

"It has nothing to do with that at all," Melvin said. "It's all about long term, down the road. We'll have him if we need him. We like [Triple-A starters] Chris Narveson [and] Zach Jackson. We're just adding depth."

Melvin said Weaver was guaranteed only a "small, Minor League salary. According to a variety of sources, Weaver could earn $4-$5 million if he makes it into the Brewers rotation soon and reaches certain statistical milestones. He can opt out of the deal in June if he isn't in the Majors, Melvin confirmed.

The Brewers' contact with Weaver was first reported on Tuesday morning by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Weaver, who turns 32 in August, did not pitch in Spring Training, but he had been working out at a facility run by his agent, Scott Boras. Brewers scout Tom Wheeler recommended Weaver after watching him throw to college hitters in California, and by Tuesday, Weaver was already on the way to the Brewers' training facility in Phoenix.

Weaver could report to Triple-A Nashville within 10-14 days.

Weaver was 7-13 with a 6.20 ERA in 27 starts last season for the Mariners and missed starts with shoulder tendinitis and a torn fingernail. But the year before that, Weaver was key to the Cardinals' championship run, going 3-2 in five starts during the 2006 postseason with a 2.92 ERA. That performance helped Boras land Weaver a one-year, $8.3 million contract with Seattle.

According to Weaver's younger brother, Angels pitcher Jered, the Nationals and Cardinals showed interest in Jeff during Spring Training.

"We wanted to take a patient look at this and find the right fit," Boras told CBSSports.com's Scott Miller. "He's been working out at our fitness institute the past two months, and he's ready to go."

Boras also represents Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, closer Eric Gagne and reliever Seth McClung.

The Brewers should get another starter back in the rotation early next week, when right-hander Yovani Gallardo is activated from the disabled list. Gallardo, coming back from knee surgery, made his third rehab start for Nashville on Monday and threw 106 pitches in 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out seven.

Gallardo was 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA in his three rehab starts. He could pitch for the Brewers as early as Sunday in Cincinnati, though the team would first have to remove another pitcher from the rotation.

"We haven't decided where he's going to fit in yet," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.