Now that Matt Garza has been traded, Jake Peavy feels as if his White Sox tenure might end soon.
Coupled with the team’s July 12 trade of Matt Thornton, when the White Sox front office signaled it's open for business, the pitcher believes his future could be determined shortly since Garza has been dealt to the Texas Rangers.
Peavy kept his own personal Garza Watch because he believed whatever the Cubs received in return for their right-hander would set the market for the White Sox.
As he hit the field for batting practice on Monday, only a few minutes after word of Garza’s trade had leaked, Peavy was already aware of the deal.
He won’t flat out say he thinks he would be traded and plans to prep for his start Thursday as he normally would. But Peavy won’t be surprised if his name is called soon.
“Just thinking about leverage and stuff, you think Garza is probably the biggest name out there so to speak,” Peavy said. “You would think other teams would wait until that to set the market and kind of happen before. That’s my mind, my general manager mind. ... We’ll see how the next few days plays out.”
While baseball observers have spent the past few days comparing Peavy and Garza to try to determine who’s better, no starter left on the trade block has as much value as Peavy.
With a number of teams looking to improve their pitching, the White Sox could receive a nice windfall were they to decide to make a deal. More than half a dozen scouts were on hand Saturday when Peavy returned from the 15-day disabled list and earned a victory in his first start since June 4.
In return for two months of Garza’s services, the Cubs received the Rangers’ No. 2 prospect (per Baseball America), third baseman Mike Olt, the No. 5, pitcher Justin Grimm, and No. 14, pitcher C.J. Edwards. The Cubs are also set to receive at least one and perhaps two players to be named later.
Whereas Garza only has two months left on his deal before he becomes a free agent, Peavy is signed through the 2014 season with a vesting option for 2015 that might be difficult for the pitcher to reach. Some reports suggested the Rangers wouldn’t have made the deal unless they expected to extend Garza beyond this season, but there are no guarantees he’d sign an extension.
If a team were to acquire Peavy they’d face no such dilemma, as they’d also have him for next season at a very affordable $14.5 million.
Even though Peavy is older than Garza — he’s 32 and the Texas pitcher is 29 — and has had injury concerns, baseball observers feel the White Sox should be able to get a haul equal to that of the Cubs.
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One source did think the Rangers were desperate and overpaid for Garza.
Another thinks the Cubs did very well but noted none of the prospects they received is “a slam dunk” as Texas managed to hang onto it’s No. 1 chip, shortstop Jurickson Profar.
The White Sox have been steadfast in their approach to the deadline — if they make a trade they would only do so if they believe it can help them by next season. General manager Rick Hahn has said he’s in search of impact talent that is in or ready to play in the major leagues.
Hahn has said he expects the White Sox to be very popular at the deadline, and Peavy and outfielder Alex Rios figure to be the most sought after chips. A report on Friday suggested the White Sox weren’t happy with the offers they have received for Rios, who finished last season with a .850 OPS.
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One very strong card Hahn has to play in his deadline dealings is that his hand isn’t forced: He doesn’t have to make a deal other than perhaps free-agent-to-be Jesse Crain.
With Peavy and Rios both under contract next season for a total of $27 million, Hahn could move forward and retain both players if the offers he receives aren’t satisfactory. He’s not in a position of a fire sale where he has been forced to slash payroll and therefore could keep both players if he thinks they give him a better chance to compete in 2014 than what the White Sox would get in return.
That point isn’t lost on White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who doesn’t believe there’s as much urgency to make deals as is perceived.
“If you don’t like what you’re getting and you know there’s no rush, then you can just wait and maybe down the road you get something else,” Konerko said. “I’m sure it’s a tough, tough job to navigate through all that kind of stuff. That’s really the only thought that goes through my head. I think everybody thinks it has to happen. This stuff has to happen. But when you look at it from really what it is, it really doesn’t. It could still, but it might not be the urgency that some people think.”
Peavy said he’s merely answering questions when he’s asked them. He’s not 100-percent certain he’d be moved, but he won’t be surprised if he is, either.
“I’m not going to be caught off guard,” Peavy said. “I understand there’s a possibility of me being moved. So you prepare yourself in life that could happen. Act as if you are oblivious to the matter. But at the same time I have to get ready to pitch against the Detroit Tigers.”