Peavy To The White Sox?

For what seems like the 387th time, Jake Peavy can go to Chicago if he wants to. Only this time, it’s the south side, as the White Sox and Padres have reportedly agreed on a deal that would Peavy to the Pale Hose for a group of unnamed prospects.

It’s obviously impossible to judge a deal like this when the return going to San Diego is unknown. However, I’m willing to bet that I’m not going to be a big fan of this move for the White Sox. Peavy has the statistics and reputation of being one of baseball’s premier pitchers, but when you strip away Petco Park and the National League, he’s more of a good pitcher than a great one.

For his career, Peavy has a 3.73 K/BB rate at Petco, and he’s allowed one home run every 56.3 plate appearances while pitching at home. On the road, his K/BB is 2.54, and he allows one home run every 30.8 plate appearances. The vast expanse of the outfield in San Diego not only turns long fly balls into outs, but it allows Peavy to be more aggressive with his pitch selection and challenge hitters with pitches he can’t get away with in stadiums that aren’t as forgiving. Away from Petco, hitters have put up a .245/.316/.419 line against him, which certainly isn’t bad, but also isn’t ace-like.

Then, you have to factor in the contract. Over the next 3 1/2 years, he’s owed about $57 million, and that jumps to $75 million over 4 1/2 years if the White Sox are required to pick up his 2013 option in order to get him to agree to the deal. Ace or not, Peavy is paid like one. It’s a huge monetary commitment, and while the White Sox certainly have money, that kind of required cost is a drag on Peavy’s value.

Parting with several good young players for the right to pay Peavy like a frontline starter and learn that he’s benefited tremendously from his environment doesn’t seem like a great idea to me. I’d imagine the Braves are pretty happy they didn’t end up making a deal for Peavy this winter, and the White Sox might be better off in the long run if the pitcher decides he wants to stay in the National League.

If I was a White Sox fan, I’d be hoping Peavy nukes this deal.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

47 Responses to “Peavy To The White Sox?”

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  1. Kevin S. says:

    Hmm, flyball pitcher going from Petco to the Cell? Yeah, that’ll work out well.

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  2. Kevin S. says:

    And honestly… if you were going to acquire Jake Peavy, why would you bother trading away Javier Vasquez?

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  3. bhoov says:

    Peavy is a career 120 ERA+ pitcher and he’s been better than that the last 2 years. Although his ERA is up a little this year his peripherals are strong. No he’s not a Santana, Webb, Oswalt type ace, but he fits in nicely with the Haren and Lackey type aces. Yes he’s expensive but probably no more so than a healthy John Lackey would have been (and still might be). As you state that expense should greatly reduce his trade value.

    So really it all comes down to the prospects: If it’s Poreda and Richard and a couple of scrubs then I’m all for it. If it includes any of Beckham, Flowers or Allen I’m against it. Kenny Williams understands park effects. I’m sure that Flowers and Beckham at least are not involved.

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    • Jim says:

      “If it includes any of Beckham, Flowers or Allen Iā€™m against it.”

      It can’t include Beckham, at least nor right now, can it? He was drafted last June, and I thought MLB prohibits that.

      Unless the deal goes through and he is one of the PTBNL, maybe…guess we’ll see. :)

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  4. Colm says:

    You just wrote the phrase, “Pale Hose”, to refer to the White Sox.
    This is the first sign I’ve read in any of your work that you might be becoming more like an ordinary baseball commentator.
    Which would be quite wrong.
    Please take care.

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    • MPC says:

      Huh? Because he called the ChiSox the Pale Hose he’s turning into Rick Sutcliffe/Steve Phillips/Joe Morgan? What?

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      • Colm says:

        Were that to happen it would be a travesty. You can’t be too careful.
        “Slowly, without trying, everyone becomes what he despises most”.
        - Steve Albini

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    • Paul Boye says:

      ESPN’s analysts suck, but let’s get all paranoid and slippery slope up in here.

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    • Fresh Hops says:

      It’s deadline day guys, he’s writing a post an hour to keep the content on Fangraphs relevant so we can think about and discuss the day’s trades. Let’s not pick every little nit we can find, okay?

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  5. Boozer says:

    As a Cub fan, I hope this goes through so Hendry doesn’t get the urge and include Josh Vitters in a deal.

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  6. Walter Jones says:

    For now, as a White Sox fan, I’d have to disagree. Two of the (rumored to be) four names thrown out the most for the Padres’ return bounty are Aaron Poreda — who’s looking more like he’ll top out as a decent bullpen lefty, unless he can suddenly learn an out pitch to get in the rotation — and Clayton Richard — aka, Poreda with a semi-out pitch but far less upside … essentially, bottom-of-rotation filler. Aside from Beckham and maybe Jordan Danks, I don’t see any other asset in the Sox system worth making any fuss over. In other words, there doesn’t appear to be an Adam Jones or Chris Tillman anywhere in the Sox farm system anyway … just a lot of Kam Mickolios.

    A good pitcher for 4 not-so-great players? Works for me.

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    • Blath says:

      1. Yeah, but the risk is much, MUCH greater with Peavy than Bedard. Look at how much money Peavy is owed as opposed to how much Bedard was owed. If Peavy doesn’t perform to expectations/gets hurt, the Sox are in for a MUCH bigger risk.

      2. He’s not getting paid that much below market value. He doesn’t have a 100MM++ contract, but only three pitchers in baseball have them right now. The Sox would be better off signing John Lackey this offseason, for probably less money, and keeping the prospects. Who wants to bet that if Peavy accepts this deal, the option is guaranteed.

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  7. Rich says:

    Beyond the particulars of this trade, I’m interested to see of this move signals the opening up of the trade market.

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  8. Joel says:

    Trades are usually bad. Not that this one would be good…

    Peavy is an Ace. Have you seen him pitch? He knows how to dominate.

    Home and Away splits correlate to ball parks but it doesn’t mean its their cause. He may be a flyball pitcher in a “pitchers park” (which would also lend itself to lots of singles and doubles) but flyballs aren’t homeruns, they’re flyballs.

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  9. Jim H says:

    I’ve seen Peavy pitch in person a dozen times (live near San Diego) including once in the second row directly behind home plate (no, I didn’t wave or clown for the camera on every pitch). Peavy consistenly gives his team a chance to win and while every pitcher benefits from Petco, It’s not like he’s giving up warning track flyballs every inning. The game I saw up close he actually got taken deep by Carlos Lee and struggled a bit, but his fastball was moving like crazy.

    My concerns are that he has missed starts in just about every season in San Diego and he has not pitched well in big games. Seems to wear down at the end of seasons. In two playoff starts he was awful and in the WBC he was awful although that’s basically spring training. I was gung ho when I heard about this, but kind of ambivalent right now.

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  10. Herr Mike says:

    Better off signing Lackey? What? I don’t care how many mediocre prospects you’d save, that’s nuts. Lackey is washed up.

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  11. JD says:

    A quick question: is it correct that FIP doesnt account for park or league effects? I know I’m way behind, just hoping I could get that cleared up.

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  12. Kincaid says:

    Looking at Peavy’s road line as how he would pitch for another team is a bit disingenuous. Pitchers pitch better at home than on the road. They have better K:BB ratios, allow fewer home runs, and have better opponent batting lines. Looking at any pitcher’s road numbers without adjusting for this fact will make him look worse than he is. This also ignores that how good he has been at home can’t be explained by just inflation from Petco. Petco inflates pitchers’ K:BB ratios and depresses HR rates, but not enough to turn home Peavy into road Peavy. There’s no reason to think that his awesome home performance has no bearing on how good he is.

    Looking at Peavy’s career numbers is also not the best way to determine how good he is now (or how Petco affects his numbers, since his first 2 years were in Qualcomm). His career numbers are dragged down a bit by his lackluster age 21 and 22 year old seasons. Over the past 5 years, he’s been much better. His road OPS against from 2004-2008 is .692. That might not sound ace-like if you’re comparing it to a normal OPS against because road numbers look worse than overall numbers, but it’s in the top 10 of pitchers with at least 300 road IP over that span.

    Obviously, Peavy’s numbers have benefited from Petco. But you can’t just look at his career road split and say that’s how good Peavy really is. That’s why we have park adjustments. What does knowing Peavy’s career road K:BB ratio is 2.54 or his opponents’ line on the road is .245/.316/.419 do? It doesn’t really tell us that much about how well he would pitch for another team. There’s no reason to believe that Peavy is a 2.54 K:BB pitcher or a .735 OPS against pitcher if he leaves San Diego right now, so what good is posting those as your only numbers and saying they’re not ace-like?

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  13. Eric says:

    Shades of the Matt Holliday trade with this one. And, isn’t offense the White Sox bigger issue right now?

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    • Walter Jones says:

      They just lost 20-1 to Matt Tolbert, Nick Punto and the mighty Twins today … so I’d say EVERYTHING is a bigger issue for the White Sox right now.

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  14. Walter Jones says:

    OK, he nuked it. Now the White Sox are going to have a hard time convincing any farm boy with a no-trade clause to come to the South Side.


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  15. Herr Mike says:

    Much as I love the midwest, trading San Diego weather for Chicago weather would have to suck.

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  16. Tim says:

    My guess is the Braves regret not getting Peavey while getting Anderson.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Yes, the Peavy non-acquisition and the Anderson signing were unequivocally linked.

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    • Teej says:

      Factoring in contracts, I’d rather have Yunel Escobar than Jake Peavy straight up. And the Padres were reportedly asking for Escobar and quite a bit more. If anyone’s regretful, I think it’ll be the Padres for overplaying their hand and not getting a shortstop they could build around.

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  17. Fresh Hops says: reports that the White Sox traded four arms to get Peavy: Arron Poreda, Dexter Carter, Adam Russell and Clayton Richard.

    Way overpaid: they’re paying Peavy what Peavy is worth and giving up four prospects to do it. Two of those three (Richard and Poreda) were on Kevin Goldstein’s top 11 for the White Sox, and Carter “just missed” the rankings.

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  18. Steve B. says:

    This risk is situational, works out for the White Sox since they desperately need a quality starter and recently brought up rookies in Getz and Beckham are paying huge dividends. Poreda’s been hyped so much, you just know he’s gonna be traded.

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