Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Breaking down the Jake Peavy trade
By Keith Law
Details of the trade
Boston Red Sox get: RHP Jake Peavy (from Chicago), RHP Brayan Villarreal (Detroit)
Detroit Tigers get: SS Jose Iglesias (Boston)
Chicago White Sox get: OF Avisail Garcia (Detroit), RHP Francelis Montas, RHP J.B. Wendelken, RHP Cleuluis Rondon (Boston)
The Red Sox get Peavy and Villarreal for a modest return, giving up a potential everyday shortstop and three long-shot minor leaguers, none of whom is likely to come back to bite them. Peavy is one of the league's top 10 starters or so when healthy, but he often isn't healthy -- 2012 is the only season in which he's topped 120 innings since 2008.
He's a rare bird as a pitcher who uses six pitches, including both a four-seamer and sinker, with a cutter becoming his main secondary weapon this year -- a White Sox specialty -- and above-average command and plus control. He's more than just a Clay Buchholz replacement -- he's giving the Red Sox a slightly better arm at the top of their rotation, and helping boost the top three for the playoffs as well.
He's under team control next year at $14.5 million, with a player option triggered if he throws 320 innings between now and the end of next year, which may happen if the sun rises in the west tomorrow morning. They also pick up a hard-throwing but erratic reliever in Villarreal, who's 92-98 with a below-average (but very hard) slider, a project guy who's about a grade-and-a-half of control from being a useful bullpen arm. Even if it's just for a year and change of Peavy, this is a good deal for the Red Sox, given their place in the standings and uncertainty about Buchholz.
Putting 'D' in Detroit
The Tigers make out pretty well here also, giving up Garcia and Villarreal for Jose Iglesias, who solves their shortstop problem in the near term (with Jhonny Peralta reportedly on the verge of a major PED-related suspension) and the long term (Peralta is a free agent after the season), and gives them a plus-plus defender in a lineup of largely below-average ones.
Iglesias' offensive outburst in June hasn't lasted -- he's at .205/.247/.217 in July -- and it won't, with an empty .260 to .270 average his potential ceiling on offense, as he has a compact, simple swing that produces contact but no power. He is, however, one of the two best defensive shortstops in baseball, along with Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons, with outstanding hands and easy, quick actions around the bag. The Tigers should just bat him ninth -- not second, please, Jim, for the love of all things holy -- and let him be Death To Ground Balls for the next five years.
What you think of the White Sox' return for Peavy depends largely on what you think of Garcia. I've long held that he's an extra outfielder, or below-average regular, a player with some tools but very little baseball skill or instincts, especially at the plate, where he appears to have no plan at all.
Garcia has raw power and swings hard on nearly every pitch, with good hip rotation, but has poor adjustments based on pitch type or situation, and that's part of why he's struggled with better velocity in his limited time in the majors. He's an impatient hitter who has never drawn more than 19 unintentional walks in a season. He's a solid defender in right with arm strength but is likely to become a below-average runner when he reaches his mid-20s, given his thick frame and build.
In Garcia's defense, he's just 22 and did not belong in the big leagues this year, so he at least has the time to develop an approach at the plate. The White Sox likely view him as a potential middle-of-the-order bat, which would more than justify the trade for Peavy, although I'm less sanguine because of Garcia's lack of adjustments.
The White Sox also got three lottery-ticket types from the bowels of Boston's farm system. Rondon is a glove-first middle infielder who's played short and second with a long way to go with the bat before he's more than a fringe prospect. Wendelken was the Red Sox' 13th-round pick in the 2012 draft, a fringe middle-relief prospect with a plus fastball but a bad body, while Montas has an even bigger arm, reaching 100 mph at times and showing feel for a slider, but a reliever delivery and possible closer/late-game future.