Jake Peavy heads to Boston as Red Sox, Tigers gain key reinforcements in three-way deal with White Sox
The Red Sox have added Jake Peavy to fill the hole in their starting rotation created by Clay Buchholz's injuries, and the Tigers have acquired slick-fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias as insurance against incumbent shortstop Jhonny Peralta's reportedly pending Biogenesis suspension. Both moves were part of a three-team, seven-player trade involving Boston, Detroit, and Peavy's former team, the Chicago White Sox.
Here's how the deal breaks down:
• The Red Sox get Peavy and RHP Brayan Villarreal for Iglesias and minor league RHPs Jeffrey Wendelken, Francellis Montas, and mL SS Cleuluis Rondon.
• The Tigers get Iglesias for OF Avisail Garcia and Villareal.
• The White Sox get Garcia, Wendelken, Montas, and Rondon for Peavy.
This deal looks very good for the Red Sox. Peavy has proven to be fragile, hitting the disabled list in five of the last six seasons, but he hasn't had an arm-related injury since 2011 and has retained a great deal of his effectiveness despite the advances of injury, age, and his hitting-friendly home ballpark in Chicago. If you remove the 2 1/3 innings in which he tried to pitch through a fractured rib in early June, Peavy's ERA this season drops from 4.28 to 3.71, and I had him as a legitimate Cy Young contender for most of last season, when he posted a 3.37 ERA (128 ERA+) over 219 innings with strong peripherals. This season, his strikeout rate is up for the second year in a row, to 8.6 K/9, good for an outstanding 4.47 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Still, there is one area of concern regarding Peavy, other than his fragility. Peavy has allowed home runs at a career-high rate of 1.6 per nine innings this season, a rate 45 percent higher than the league average of 1.1 HR/9. You can't blame that on U.S. Cellular Field, either, as Peavy has allowed the same number of home runs home as away despite facing fewer batters on the road. Rather, his gopheritis is evidence of a fly-ball rate that has been climbing steadily since his Padres heyday, a trend which must be reversed.
Still, Peavy is just 32 and signed for 2014, while his innings-based player option for 2015 has likely been eliminated by the nearly seven weeks he spent on the disabled list this season following the rib fracture. So the Red Sox get a solid rotation addition not only for the stretch run and postseason, but for next year.
They also add a live arm to their bullpen in Villarreal. Villarreal is fairly typical bullpen fodder, with a high-90s fastball and a wipe-out slider, but precious little control. However, in the wake of Andrew Bailey's season-ending shoulder surgery, he could prove to be more than just a throw-in. He's also 26 and under team control through 2017.
For the pitching help, Boston had to part with Iglesias -- who is expected to be replaced at third base by the return of Will Middlebrooks -- and three minor prospects, none of whom has advanced past the Sally League, the oldest of whom is 20, and only one of whom was listed among the top 41 prospects in the Red Sox's system by SB Nation's John Sickels prior to this season (more on those three below).
For the Tigers, this move is important, but also regrettable. The acquisition of Iglesias is necessitated by the season-ending suspension Jhonny Peralta seems likely to receive later this week for his involvement with Biogenesis. That suspension has now cost them Garcia, who is something of an odd duck, but a talented one who was rated the 74th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America coming into the year and the Tigers' number-two prospect by Baseball Prospectus.
Iglesias, who defected from the Cuban junior national team as a teenager, is an elite fielder at shortstop, but despite a hot streak with the Red Sox earlier this year, there remain serious doubts about his ability to hit consistently in the major leagues. Iglesias hit .403/.455/.517 over his first 165 plate appearances this season, but that was largely the result of phenomenal luck on balls in play (.457 BABIP). He walked just once every 15 PA and hit only one home run over that span, and since his averaged dipped below .400 on July 7, he has hit just .159/.182/.159 without a walk or an extra-base hit over 66 plate appearances.
That hot streak with the Red Sox is the only sustained bit of hitting he has ever had in the States. He is a career .257/.307/.314 hitter in the minors, and he hasn't had an OPS over .672 at any level higher than Low-A short-season ball. Even with that hot streak comprising just about half of his major-league playing time, he's a career .280/.333/.357 hitter in the major leagues. His glove is undeniable, but it's very likely the only tool he is going to bring to Detroit.
Garcia, the key piece heading to the White Sox, is a tremendous physical specimen. Just 22 years old, the Venezuelan outfielder is 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, has a tremendous arm, and, despite his size, boasts above-average speed. The scouts like his tools as well. There is potential there for a five-tool stud, but he has never really shown significant in-game power, topping out at 14 home runs over a full season and somehow going 70 plate appearances before collecting his first extra-base hit in the majors last year. Given that he also doesn't walk very often, there's as much potential for disaster as success in his bat. He could be a project for the White Sox. He could also be their rightfielder by the end of the week if Alex Rios is traded. As for the three prospects coming from Boston, 19-year-old Cleuluis Rondon (who, regrettably does not pronounce his first name "Cluey Lewis") is a good-field, no-hit shortstop from Venezuela currently not hitting in short-season Low-A. The two righties are both 20 and in the Sally League and project as relievers. Wendelken, a 13th-round pick out of Middle Georgia College in last year's draft, is already in that role. Montas, who is from the Dominican Republic and was the only one of the trio to warrant mention from Sickels, is still starting and could be the best of the trio. He can hit triple-digits with his fastball, has a wipe-out slider, and seems to be learning to control both pitches, but his lack of a third currently limits his projection.