Chicago White Sox starter Jake Peavy is probably going to get traded in the next three days. that is, if you believe Peavy. And honestly, there are a lot of fanbases out there that want nothing to do with Peavy, damning his contract and injury history. But would Peavy be a huge upgrade for a team looking for starting pitching, or would he be a waste of resources?
2012 was the first season since 2008 that Peavy made at least 20 starts or threw more than 120 innings. Injuries have wrecked the 32-year old's promising career, and many people forget just how good he was with the Padres.
While Peavy has dealt with injury issues in recent years, he only had one major arm surgery. In 2010, Peavy had surgery to repair a detached lat, which ended his season. In 2011, he started the year on the DL with tendonitis in his rotator cuff (likely connected to that lat surgery). Since coming off of the DL in May of 2011, Peavy has had just two short DL stints: one for a strained groin that kept him out the minimum 15 days, and one for a broken rib that kept him out for six weeks. Neither of those injuries are related to his abilities on the mound, and qualify more as freak injuries than a sign of something seriously wrong with him.
Since the lat surgery, Peavy's velocity has dropped. That is a confirmed fact. But in the three years since, his velocity has been consistent and not steadily dropping. In his two July starts since coming off of the DL, Peavy's velocity is right back where it was in 2011, 2012, and in 2013 prior to his DL stint. I don't think fretting about the health of Peavy's arm going forward is a valid concern for wanting nothing to do with him.
The issue of Peavy's performance could be a valid concern, though. But since his shoulder surgery, Peavy has been a new pitcher. He's posted the three lowest walk rates of his career over the last three seasons, and his strikeout rate this year has ticked up close to his career average as he's jumped out in front of hitters early and often. Despite his massive home/road splits this year, Peavy has essentially been the same pitcher at US Cellular Field as he's been away from it, but a 100 point difference in BABIP along with a nearly 25% lower strand rate has sent his road ERA nitro the stratosphere.
Finally, there's the issue of Peavy's contract: the remaining part of $14.5 million this season, $14.5 million in 2014, and a $15 million player option for 2015 that is contingent on innings pitched, which could be deep sixed after his broken rib cost him seven or eight starts. The roughly $20 million being owed to Peavy seems like a lot, until you realize that last season, Peavy was worth 4.4 fWAR, and was worth 3.1 fWAR the season before that in only 18 starts. Mark Buehrle is getting the same AAV from the Blue Jays, and he has one four win season in the last eight. CJ Wilson's AAV is $15.5 million, and he's in just his fourth year as a starting pitcher (while being six months older than Peavy, mind you). Anibal Sanchez got $88 million over five years, and has never thrown 200 innings in a season. Peavy's not looking so bad at $14.5 million per, is he?
Look at the trade market right now. The Royals have pulled Ervin Santana after their recent winning streak. No one knows if Cliff Lee will be available. Scott Feldman and Matt Garza have already been dealt. What's left aside from Peavy and Bud Norris? There's not much out there, and I'd rather pay a bit more and get Peavy as opposed to Norris, who has continually shown absurd home/road splits over his entire career and has seen his strikeout rate fall off a cliff in 2013.