For what seems like the 387th time, Jake Peavy can go to Chicago if he wants to. Only this time, it’s the south side, as the White Sox and Padres have reportedly agreed on a deal that would Peavy to the Pale Hose for a group of unnamed prospects.
It’s obviously impossible to judge a deal like this when the return going to San Diego is unknown. However, I’m willing to bet that I’m not going to be a big fan of this move for the White Sox. Peavy has the statistics and reputation of being one of baseball’s premier pitchers, but when you strip away Petco Park and the National League, he’s more of a good pitcher than a great one.
For his career, Peavy has a 3.73 K/BB rate at Petco, and he’s allowed one home run every 56.3 plate appearances while pitching at home. On the road, his K/BB is 2.54, and he allows one home run every 30.8 plate appearances. The vast expanse of the outfield in San Diego not only turns long fly balls into outs, but it allows Peavy to be more aggressive with his pitch selection and challenge hitters with pitches he can’t get away with in stadiums that aren’t as forgiving. Away from Petco, hitters have put up a .245/.316/.419 line against him, which certainly isn’t bad, but also isn’t ace-like.
Then, you have to factor in the contract. Over the next 3 1/2 years, he’s owed about $57 million, and that jumps to $75 million over 4 1/2 years if the White Sox are required to pick up his 2013 option in order to get him to agree to the deal. Ace or not, Peavy is paid like one. It’s a huge monetary commitment, and while the White Sox certainly have money, that kind of required cost is a drag on Peavy’s value.
Parting with several good young players for the right to pay Peavy like a frontline starter and learn that he’s benefited tremendously from his environment doesn’t seem like a great idea to me. I’d imagine the Braves are pretty happy they didn’t end up making a deal for Peavy this winter, and the White Sox might be better off in the long run if the pitcher decides he wants to stay in the National League.
If I was a White Sox fan, I’d be hoping Peavy nukes this deal.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.