Peavy posturing until the end


Jul 25, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy (44) pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox have had a moratorium on making the playoffs since their presidential fan was sworn into office, despite rolling with a payroll over $96 million the whole time, so I’m not as inclined as I should be to defer to the expertise of the by all accounts very well-regarded Rick Hahn.

As a result I have been momentarily suckered in by every bit of posturing that seemed to hint that the Sox were ducking out of the rebuild this sled ride to hell of a season has screamed for. 

"The White Sox are telling other teams they’re going to keep Peavy and build around him."

"— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 29, 2013"

That was like getting hit by a 2 x 4, both in immediate impact and the time it took me to get my bearings.

It came in the wake of an admirably savvy move to trade Jesse Crain while he was still rooted to the disabled list before the non-waiver trade deadline–a demanding conditional agreement that had to set parameters for the theoretical value Crain will provide upon returning from injury. It was inspired problem-solving for a team that recognized that the value they could extract from a soon-to-be free agent was quickly fading.

So, the same front office probably didn’t turn around and hardball their way out of fencing Jake Peavy at the deadline, when flags are flying temptingly in the eyes of contending GMs. Also, this happened. 

"#WhiteSox have a contingency in place if they were to trade Jake Peavy: Andre Rienzo is in Cleveland."

"— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) July 30, 2013"

So it’s likely still game on for the most valuable trade chit in the Sox possession since Alex Rios checked out and brought every question about his consistency back to the forefront, with an intriguing opportunity to see a prospect in action lined up as a possible reward for fans who want to see a name they haven’t learned, chewed around for a bit and already drenched in contempt.

A hard-fought Jake Peavy prospect bounty could do a lot to salvage a trade deadline that’s been quieter than expected, and also toss out a few days of an implausibly twisting path of rumors that had the A’s, Red Sox, Braves, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Cardinals all in, and all getting turned off by Hahn reportedly negotiating like a message board troll.

  • From Jeff Passan: “First-year general manager Rick Hahn is asking for every interested organization’s top prospect, from Oakland’s Addison Russell to Boston’s Xander Bogaerts, both of which are complete non-starters.”
  • From Jayson Stark, who I always like remember for picking the ’05 White Sox to lose in every round of the playoffs: “The stance the Red Sox have taken in the recent past was: They’ll take the money, or they’ll give up the prospects, but they won’t do both. And that has a chance to be a deal-breaker in this case, because other teams say the White Sox haven’t shown any interest in digesting money to get this deal done.”

Well, if the Sox don’t get a deal done, there will certainly be some theories as to why, since this is hysterical stuff.

If—goodness, how many times have I written “if” this week?—all the back and forth on Peavy just has to be written off as words without action until Wednesday afternoon, then the slowing of momentum behind Rios and Alexei Ramirez can only mean so much too, even if just watching them hit provides explanation why momentum for them might be tepid.

This still doesn’t look like it’s getting close to the aggressive push to purge it all that this weak trade market could support, but consider for a moment the possibility that the White Sox just deal Peavy and call it at that. They will have traded away exclusively from positions of organizational strength (starting rotation) or areas that are easily reloaded (bullpen), cleared away approximately $25 million in salary if Peavy’s salary is absorbed, with the same-old task of patching together an offense in front of them.

A failure of this magnitude seems like it should provoke multiple years of retreat, and surely most organizations would opt to construct a solid base of offensive performers to prevent this kind of collapse from swiftly reoccurring, but the Sox have precedent for this kind of thinking.

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan