2008 Offseason: What a Peavy would cost

So all the buzz is about San Diego Padres starter Jake Peavy. The Padres are going nowhere fast, and might deal their ace Ever since Paul DePodesta posted this on his blog, speculation has run rampant on the Internet about where he could wind up. Sean McAdam really stirred the waters with this article. Would the Sox really go after Peavy? Let’s take a looksee.

The Product

Peavy is a veritable ace (at least in the NL) and at age 27 is in the prime of his career. He holds a 86-62 record and a 3.25 ERA in seven Major League seasons, and an ERA+ of 121. A two-time All-Star, he won the 2007 NL Cy Young and has led the league in ERA two seasons and strikeouts two seasons. His two postseason starts were awful, but I’ll chalk that up to small sample size.

Peavy throws in the low- to mid-90s and relies mainly on a nasty fastball/cutter/slider combination. He also has a changeup that he shows a couple of times a game and a show-me curveball that he breaks out on rare occasion. He strands an above-average percentage of baserunners, and that contributes to his success. Peavy is kind of a flyball pitcher, but not extremely so, and doesn’t allow many HRs. He is not a complete game-type of pitcher, but is almost always good for 6-7 innings. After his first year in the Majors, he has not made fewer than 27 starts in a given year, and appears to be healthy. While his peripherals were slightly off this year, I he doesn’t show any signs of decline at the moment.

Is there any downside here? Of course, pitching in spacious PETCO is an advantage:

Career splits
Home: 41-27, 2.77 ERA, 9.52 K/9, 2.59 BB/9
Away: 45-35, 3.80 ERA, 8.32 K/9, 3.27 BB/9

When you’ve got a football field for an outfield, you can afford to be a little more aggressive and throw strikes. The FIP method estimates his career ERA at a solid 3.50.

Then there’s the problem of coming over to the AL. What might we expect to see from Peavy when facing some pretty nasty designated hitters?

Career in Intra-League games: 8-8, 3.29 ERA, 8.45 K/9, 2.47 BB/9

So who he is away from PETCO is pretty much who he is. Keep that in mind as you peruse those great numbers.

Peavy is said to dislike the AL, but he would consider playing for a contending team; he also wants full no-trade protection if he is dealt.

The other thing that would make a Peavy deal unusual is the length of his contract. Peavy is locked up for the next four years at a total price of $63M, with a $22M option for 2013. Johan Santana was dealt with one year left on his contract, Rich Harden had a one-year option, and CC Sabathia was in a contract year. The best comparison actually might be the Dan Haren trade, because he was 27 at the time of the deal and had three years left on his contract.

The Competition

There are a lot of teams in on Peavy, including Brian Cashman and friends. Both New York and Atlanta have the salary room, and are badly in need of an ace. The Dodgers are also said to have strong interest, and have the prospects to swing the deal. You can bet that there are a lot of other teams quietly in the mix as well. Basically, the price will be high. One report has the price tag at Tommy Hanson, Jordan Schaefer, and Kelly Johnson or Yunel Escobar for the Braves, but Keith Law at ESPN thinks it could go even higher. From reports, it seems that Hanson has almost certainly been offered as part of a deal.

The Cost

It is rumored that the Pads are looking for three premium prospects for Peavy, but this is probably in flux as interested teams size up the situation and make their offers. I expect it to go up, as many teams are interested. Peavy is signed for four more years at an average of $15M per season, which will be cheap money for an ace come 2012. Heck, it’s not a bad deal now; Sabathia is expected to command an annual salary of about $20M this offseason as a free agent. I think the Padres can reasonably expect 3-4 Major League-ready players plus a high ceiling prospect in return for Peavy.

For the Red Sox, that could translate into Clay Buchholz, MIchael Bowden, Jed Lowrie and Lars Anderson. Understandably, teams will balk at giving up so much top talent for one player, so you may see the trade expanded to include players like shortstop Khalil Greene, who has had problems with the management in San Diego.

Peavy wants his no-trade clause to be complete, wants travel incentives to visit his West Coast home often, and possibly his option year picked up. That means his deal would average $17M per season. Giving up all those prospects and coughing up that cash is a tall order.

Peavy versus Santana

If you’ll remember back one year to the Santana talks, the Red Sox were said to be offering up a package including Jon Lester, Lowrie, Justin Masterson and Ryan Kalish (looking back, that would have been one heck of a haul for Bill Smith’s Twins).

While Peavy’s resume is not quite as impressive as the Johan’s, he is a lot younger and under contract for some time. I was concerned a bit about him not going deep into games, but he has alleviated that concern for me in recent years. He is a workhorse, a strikeout pitcher with a clean bill of health.

What Will Happen

Theo Epstein is not the type of GM to jump on Peavy right away with a “blow them away” offer. As usual, he will express interest, float some names, then sit back to see how the market shakes out for all starting pitchers, including Peavy. I don’t see him dealing all four players I mentioned above for Peavy, but he might do three of them plus some lesser lights. With a rotation that already features Josh Beckett, Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka, I’m not sure that this is a number one priority for the Sox. Like we did with Santana, we’ll stick around and get him if we can pay what we want to pay.

But as the “overstocked” Red Sox found out this year, you can never have too much pitching. The three most important things about your team are rotation, rotation, rotation. But if we could land Peavy… That could be a rotation for the ages.


2 Responses to 2008 Offseason: What a Peavy would cost

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    What do people think about including a shortstop swap? Peavy and Greene for prospects, Lugo and cash. Greene has been a good fielder (though that seems to be declining) and an underrated hitter who had a horrible year (check his home/road splits).

  2. Pingback: 2008 Offseason: GM Meeting update « Red Sox Talk

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