Back on April 16th, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca confirmed that the Toronto Blue Jays nearly acquired right-hander Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox. The deal fell through, as Chicago renegotiated its option with Peavy and the Blue Jays instead turned their sights to Miami, completing a trade that instead brought Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto.
Now, nearly eight months since that deal went unconsummated, the White Sox are in full selling mode and Jake Peavy is again floating out there on the trade market.
Could the Blue Jays again engage Chicago on a possible Peavy deal?
Granted, Toronto is not in a good position to be considered a buyer at this stage in the season, but we’re not talking about your normal deadline deal here either. Jake Peavy is under contract through the 2014 season and will hold a player option in 2015 should he reach an innings threshold of 400 IP between 2013 and 2014 (which isn’t likely given he’s been held to 67 thus far in 2013).
That means that a Peavy acquisition would help the Blue Jays rotation, not just down the stretch in 2013, but also out of the gate in 2014. If the club were to convert his player option to a team option in 2015, that’s 2.5 years of club control.
Of course Peavy has been dealing with a broken rib since June 5th, but he’s now throwing simulated games pain free and could be ready to begin a rehab assignment shortly after the All-Star break. He’d be returning to a 6-4 record, a 4.30 ERA, and 4.0 K/BB ratio through 11 starts. He compiled a 11-12 record with a 3.37 ERA and 8.0 K/9 ratio over 219 innings in 2012. An acquiring club would be betting on the fact that Peavy can put the rib injury behind him and return strong for the remainder of 2013 and be a productive innings-eater in 2014, which is a risky bet given Peavy’s injury history.
That all said, the 32-year-old Peavy becomes attractive as a trade target because of his cost, both in terms of prospects and in the long-term. Chicago will be looking for a young arm in return, but won’t likely see the type of return that the recently traded Ricky Nolasco brought Miami. Chicago just won’t have enough time to showcase a healthy Peavy to maximize a return. One solid prospect should be enough to trigger the trade, as well as Toronto taking on most, if not all of Peavy’s remaining contract.
Then there is the matter of Josh Johnson. The much ballyhooed winter acquisition has been a disappointment for Toronto in his walk year. The 29-year-old is just 1-3 while making just 10 starts for the Blue Jays and holds a 1.613 WHIP and 4.89 ERA. That makes it difficult to see Toronto doing much in the way of lobbying for Johnson’s services past this season, up to and including extending him a qualifying offer, which will be roughly $14 million this winter.
That’s truly the kicker here. Peavy is owed $14.5 million in 2014 and has the vesting player option of $15 million lingering. Considering the cost of signing a Matt Garza, Ricky Nolasco, or Tim Lincecum in a thin free agent market, or even taking a flyer on a recovering Roy Halladay or an over-performing Jorge De La Rosa, Peavy’s contract looks that much more attractive. Then throw in the worry that Johnson would take a qualifying offer in order to rebuild his value, it seems like the safer bet would be reengaging the White Sox on Peavy.
Of course, that hinges on the Blue Jays doing some shopping at the deadline. And that’s a question that has yet to be answered.