Jake Peavy: What the Trade Means, What he Meant

As you all know by now, Jake Peavy was a part of a three-team blockbuster deal late last night. Peavy was sent to Boston, while the White Sox received Tigers outfield prospect Avisail Garcia and three minor leaguers from Boston. Detroit received Boston infielder Jose (don’t call me Enrique) Iglesias.

So what does it all mean for the direction of this ball club? And how much did he have an impact on this club over his tenure with the team?

Why Make the Deal? What it Means…

Reaction to the trade so far has been pretty down the middle on twitter, as there are people both thrilled an upset. There’s a school of thought that likes the Sox acquired a potential five-tool player for an aging starting pitcher with a big contract, while the other side thinks the team dealt its emotional leader for another “toolsy” outfielder the White Sox seem to salivate over.

Whether you like it or not, trading Jake Peavy was inevitable from the White Sox standpoint. It’s clear, and was clear from the moment he said it, that Rick Hahn’s comment about keeping Peavy and “building around him” was a smokescreen and a ploy to drive up the offers of other teams. With Andre Rienzo having nothing left to prove in AAA and Erik Johnson not too far behind him, the young options were there to take the place of Peavy.

On a ball club that’s 24 games below .500, trading a pitcher with an impressive resume, postseason experience, and a contract that runs through NEXT season makes way too much sense. It’s a harsh reality and it’s part of the business side of the game, but if Jake Peavy wasn’t traded, the White Sox were probably making a huge mistake and delaying the inevitable process of rebuilding a farm system that currently leaves a lot to be desired.

Andre Rienzo is probably the key man here, as his recent domination in AAA probably made the White Sox realize they had the opportunity to maximize on Peavy now. If none of your promising prospects appeared ready, then hanging onto Peavy like the Sox may do with guys like Alexei Ramirez, Alejandro De Aza, and Alex Rios (although that could change now with Garcia coming over) wouldn’t be such a bad idea. However, Rienzo has solidified himself as someone who deserves this chance, and the Sox were ready to give it to him.

As far as the return goes, Matt Hoeppner did a terrific job in breaking down Avisail Garcia on this blog earlier today, so I won’t go into too much detail on him. He is that “toolsy” outfielder that Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams love, but he’s certainly MUCH, MUCH closer and more polished than guys like Courtney Hawkins, Trayce Thompson, Brandon Jacobs, etc. Heck, the guy’s already hit .455 in a playoff series, and he’s just 22 years old.

Yes, you can probably wish a better return for Peavy would have materialized, and quite frankly, I’m a bit on board with that idea. However, based on Garcia’s tools and how seemingly close he is to contributing to this ball club, I have no reservations with him being the centerpiece of a Jake Peavy trade. Getting a guy who projects as a 30+ home run, .280 hitter that should make a few All-Star teams is fine by me for a starting pitcher pushing his mid-30s.

But based on everything Peavy brings to the table in terms of leadership and experience, I did expect a bit more of a return with the three lesser prospects (Jeff Wendelken, Francellis Montas, and Cleuluis Rondon) the Sox received from Boston. While there’s promising aspects to all three of them (Montas has a triple-digit fastball), none of these guys seem to profile as sure-fire major league players and are lower-level prospects.

A guy with Peavy’s track record probably deserves more than that, but at the same time, the White Sox didn’t send the Red Sox a dime to help pay the rest of the $14 million remaining on Peavy’s contract. That’s obviously a huge burden off the back of Rick Hahn and frees up other avenues, but is this off-season really the time to make a big splash with cash? It seems like 2015 would be the year to do that based on how far away the ChiSox seem to be from competing, and by that time, Peavy’s deal would have been off the books anyways.

Just by looking at this depleted farm system, I would have rather seen the Sox eat part of Peavy’s contract in exchange for some more mid-level prospects instead. It really all depends on what Hahn does with the freed-up cash, which could turn into even more if more players are dealt and Paul Konerko doesn’t return in 2014.

Jake Peavy's Tenure

When you lose a guy like Jake Peavy, it’s going to have an impact regardless of how bad the ball club is. The Jakemeister was a well-respected guy in that clubhouse and a leader from the day he arrived in Chicago.

Peavy had a roller coaster ride of a Sox tenure that spanned four years minus one day. He came over from the Padres at the trading deadline in 2009, but was on the disabled list with an ankle injury. He returned in September to win all three of his starts, but the team was out of contention by that time. In 2010, he was sub-par before injuring his shoulder and having the monumental surgery on his latissimus dorsi muscle, and was much of the same in 2011 when he returned.

However, he took off in 2012, and was a productive and fiery leader that surprised the American League. On a team no one had competing for a division title, Peavy threw the second most innings of his career just a year and a half removed from his surgery and recorded a 3.37 ERA. While the Sox fell just short of the postseason, it was to no fault of Jake Peavy.

He’s been productive this year as well, as his 4.28 ERA is really skewed by the two outings he pitched with a fractured rib that ultimately landed him back on the disabled list for a month. Now that he’s fully recovered from that, he’s going to help the Boston Red Sox in a big way and probably has his most legitimate chance at winning a World Series up to this point in his career. With how he’s preformed and how he’s helped guide this young pitching staff, a guy like Jake deserves that.

For now, we can expect to see a rotation of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Hector Santiago, John Danks, and Andre Rienzo for the remainder of the season. John Danks now becomes the group’s elder statesman, while Sale’s probably that fiery, emotional leader. While Peavy brought so many intangibles, we can reasonably and fully expect no drop off from any of the four left-handers, as they are talented enough to continue progressing, and Sale and Danks should be more than capable of filling leadership roles at this point in their careers. As for Rienzo, he appears to pitch with the same kind of fire that Peavy does, so he should fit right in to this group.

Rebuilds really do suck when they happen. It sucks having to say goodbye to someone like Jake Peavy, a player that’s fought through a ton and really put himself on the line to win games for this organization. However, unless you want to see more seasons like this one on a consistent basis, a Jake Peavy trade was necessary, and he likely won’t be the last one to go before Opening Day 2014.