Ever wonder how close Jake Peavy came to becoming a Chicago Cub?
“I think it was as close as anything could possibly be without happening,” said Peavy, who for three days in the winter of 2008 thought he had a new home at the corner of Clark and Addison. He was signed and sealed to go from the Padres to the Cubs, but at the very last minute, couldn’t be delivered.
“It was going to happen, and then it was a few days where we were just waiting on the announcement. They had to get a few things done here and there, and it was going to be a done deal,” Peavy said in an interview for Inside Look, which debuts Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.
Peavy was one year removed from capturing the 2007 Cy Young Award. The Cubs had just won 97 games, but were quickly swept away by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs. With the Padres dumping salary and the Cubs adding it in the hopes of winning a World Series to increase the price tag while the franchise was up for sale, Peavy was considered that one missing piece that could put the Cubs over the top.
“I certainly thought I was going to be a Chicago Cub, and at that point and time, I really wanted to be,” Peavy said. “I was excited about the opportunity and knew I was about to be moved. I love the city of Chicago and I wanted to stay in the National League. I love that game and being able to be a part of it, so at that point and time, I was all but a Chicago Cub.”
The framework of a trade was agreed upon. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and Padres general manager Kevin Towers spent hours huddled in the Bellagio Hotel at the MLB winter meetings that December doing everything in their power to make the deal happen. The Braves and Orioles also got involved in what could have been a four-team trade. Names like Mark DeRosa, Jeff Samardzija, Felix Pie, Sean Marshall and Josh Vitters were discussed.
Everyone covering the meetings was simply waiting to read the final press release.
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “The Jake Peavy to Cubs trade talks have reached a point where it will be a stunner if the Cubs don’t acquire Peavy.”
Even Jake was caught up in the excitement. According to internet rumors, he was spotted in a Las Vegas bar singing the Cubs fight song, “Go Cubs, Go.”
Or was he?
“No, that’s completely false. I’m not even sure where that came from,” Peavy said. “They said I was in some bar singing, ‘Go Cubs, Go.’ I don’t even know the song ‘Go Cubs, Go.’ And there’s no way that I would ever disrespect the team that I was on at that point and time by doing anything like that. So no, that’s completely false. I think it’s funny though.”
But soon, nobody would be laughing. Especially Hendry.
I was about to find out myself.
Word is that Cubs owner Sam Zell sent a message to Hendry at the last moment saying he wouldn’t take on the $63 million remaining on Peavy’s contract.
Just like that, the deal was off.
Although Peavy heard a different story.
“I think it was pretty much a done deal and we had some ownership stuff going on. [Padres CEO] Sandy Alderson had just came over and he kind of pulled the plug on it, just out from under my feet,” Peavy said.
Either way, Hendry was crushed and in no mood to talk about Peavy. I can only assume he got the bad news around the time we in the media entered his hotel suite to speak with him in Vegas. I asked the first question. It was about, who else? Peavy. It was the hot topic in baseball at the time.
It turns out that Hendry was even hotter.
Right after I asked about Peavy, Hendry told our photographer to turn off his camera. The Cubs GM then proceeded to scream at me while I sat a few inches away from him.
“I’m done talking about that! Don’t ask me about him anymore! You got it? You got it?”
Umm, I got it. I think everyone on the Las Vegas Strip got it.
The next day, Hendry told Towers that the deal was off. And then one year later, it was the White Sox, of all teams, who got Peavy.
“I got woken up from a nap with my agent calling, saying ‘Hey, the White Sox want to make this deal here at the deadline,’” Peavy recalled. “I said, ‘Do these guys know I’m hurt? And done for the year?’ I was supposed to be done for the year.’”
Peavy had a strained tendon in his ankle, suffered ironically against the Cubs in May of 2009.
“Kenny Williams showed the faith and that, ‘Hey, he wants you coming back again.’ There’s no better feeling in the world to be wanted if somebody goes ‘I want you on my team. I know you’re hurt, but you’ve got three years left on your contract. I want you here. We’ll see if we can get going this year, but if not, we’re gonna win.”
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet with the White Sox. You can’t always predict the future. Peavy knows all about that. He has a surgically repaired lat muscle to prove it.
Thursday, Peavy is back on the mound at Wrigley Field, pitching at the place that almost became his home. But after three years with the White Sox, Peavy says there’s no place like the South Side.
“I played obviously more years in San Diego, but I feel that I’m a (a true member of the) Chicago White Sox, and I want to be known as that until the day I die,” Peavy said.
"I love, love our fan base, I love the blue collar attitude, just the persona we have because that’s who I am, that’s the way I was raised. I love it and I hope to stay here and I hope this is where I end my career.”