October 3, 2016

ELDEN | Revisiting the Jake Peavy Trade

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The Padres’ 2009 trade deadline saw the exit of one of San Diego’s stalwarts. The decade before was defined by closer Trevor Hoffman, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and staff ace Jake Peavy. In 2005 and 2006, the team barely made the playoffs by winning a very weak division. In the following years, the Padres declined rapidly. The 2008 Padres reached their lowest point since 1993, a season in which they won 61 games. Jake Peavy was coming off one of his strongest seasons of his career, but entering the most expensive years of his contract.

The low-budget team had just lost future Hall-of-Famer Trevor Hoffman to free agency, and were still looking to move Peavy. They shopped him heavily, reportedly declining offers from the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. Interestingly enough, both packages were rumored to mostly include players that later flamed out or underperformed, such as Gorkys Hernandez and Josh Vitters. The team held onto Peavy into the season, and then in May worked out the framework to a deal with the White Sox that would have sent Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Daniel Hudson, and a fourth player to San Diego.

Peavy exercised his no-trade clause and rejected the trade. He strained a tendon in his ankle and was placed on the disabled list just weeks after deciding to stay in San Diego. At the trade deadline, the Padres and White Sox agreed to the same deal with reliever Adam Russell and pitcher Dexter Carter headed in place of Hudson and the fourth player (who may have very well been Carter or Russell). The deal was surprising because of Peavy’s injury and its similarities to the trade that he had previously rejected. This time, Peavy accepted the move to Chicago.

The Padres missed out on Daniel Hudson, who went on to have great success in 2010 and 2011, before succumbing to an injury that forced him to have Tommy John surgery. In 2013, he re-tore his ulnar collateral ligament, forcing him to undergo the surgery a second time. This derailed his career and took him from being a strong starting pitching option to a middle relief arm.

Peavy turned out to be a solid arm for the White Sox, but did not return to the ace status that he consistently flashed in San Diego. Over parts of five seasons with the White Sox, he started 83 games and posted a 4.00 ERA and an 8.0 K/9 during that span. He was later moved to the Red Sox in a trade that netted outfielder Avisail Garcia, young pitcher Frankie Montas (who later helped to acquire Todd Frazier), and two prospects who have since faded out of the picture. Montas and Garcia both represent valuable assets that Peavy returned.

The Padres saw a somewhat limited return on what they got back for Peavy. Carter never made it to the majors. Poreda threw 2.1 innings for the team. Russell was a mediocre middle relief arm for parts of two seasons. The only piece acquired that contributed anything significant was left-handed pitcher Clayton Richard. Over six seasons in San Diego, his production was almost identical to that of Jake Peavy. He started 119 games for the Padres, posting a 4.03 ERA. He was often a key cog in the rotation, eating innings in seasons where the team often had many injuries to their starting staffs. He left via free agency after the 2013 season, so the Padres did not get a return on him. He was recently resigned to a minor league deal after bouncing around several organizations over the past three seasons, and performed quite well in the second half. There is mutual interest in a return.

Seven years later, it can be said that Richard and Peavy provided similar value to their respective teams after the trade, but Peavy had a much higher salary at the time. Peavy brought back a strong package via trade, but was also considerably more expensive than Richard. The deal ended up being pretty even.