At the trade dealine, Jake Peavy was dealt to the White Sox for four pitching prospects. Peavy, who has been injured since June, may not pitch again this season until late August, at the earliest. Anyway, before we look at the details of this trade, I think it’s essential to touch on Peavy’s career in San Diego.
The guy was a great asset for the Padres, and a wonderful player to watch. Peavy finished his Padres’ career with a 3.29 ERA in 1342 innings, racking up 1348 strikeouts to just 435 walks. According to FanGraphs, Peavy was 25.6 Wins Above Replacement level from 2002-2009. That performance, on the free agent market, was worth about $95 million. The Padres paid a mere $21 million for it. His time here wasn’t perfect, as he came up short in some of his biggest starts, but overall Peavy was tremendous for the Padres.
At this time, however, it does make some sense to deal Jake. Peavy makes $48 million over the next three years. The Padres are a team not expected to compete for at least one of those years, if not all of them. Peavy is getting older. It adds up. Other than trading him when his value is relatively low, its probably a good time to trade Peavy.
That said, was it a good deal? First, we need to estimate Peavy’s production and value over the rest of his contract. ZiPS projects Peavy’s park-neutral ERA at 3.65 – note that we’re ignoring his injury for now and just going by his past production. So, I’ve got Peavy as about a 4 WAR pitcher, in a full season. Here’s the chart:
Peavy is ‘only’ worth $4.5 million in surplus value through 2012, according to my calculations. That is not considering his option for 2013 (and $4M buyout) or the draft pick the Sox will pick up when/if he leaves for free agency. There are two factors making that figure look smaller than you might have expected. One, Peavy is getting older, he likely isn’t going to be as good now as he has been in the past. Two, now he starts making the big bucks. Again, $48 million over the next three years. That’s not bad for a sure-fire ace. But for Peavy, coming off injuries and approaching 30 – well, it’s not bad, but it isn’t necessarily a bargain.
According to John Sickels, the Padres picked up:
Aaron Poreda: B+ prospect
Clayton Richard: C+ prospect
Dexter Carter: C prospect
Adam Russell: unranked
Those four prospects are worth about $11 million in surplus value. So, the Padres actually made out relatively well in this deal. $11 million – $5 million = $6 million to the plus side. That is, if you trust my evaluation of Peavy, and the judgment of these prospects, and all of the other assumptions made here. There are a lot of factors involved in this type of analysis, making it much more of a fun little exercise than it is a true evaluation of the trade.
Also, even if this is a “win” for the Padres, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a loss for Chicago. The White Sox could increase their playoff chances enough to offset the apparent gap in the deal that favors San Diego.
Anyway, the Padres got great production out of Jake Peavy while he was making very little money, relatively speaking. Now, when he’s going to get paid (and should gradually decline performance-wise), they ship him off for a haul of decent, if not overwhelming prospects. Yeah, that may not be how you want to look at things from a fan’s perspective, but I guess it is a business. For a small market team like the Padres to compete, moves like this may be a necessity. They can afford players up to a certain point, but once that point comes it is time to cash in and move on.
It was fun watchin’ ya while you were here, Jake.