Now that Matt Garza has traded in his deep-dish Chicago pizza for Texas barbecue, perhaps the biggest remaining question before the 2013 MLB trade deadline will be whether a certain hurler on the South Side will do the same.

Of course, I speak of Chicago White Sox righty Jake Peavy, who has taken the aluminum-encrusted Best Pitcher Available championship belt. The White Sox haven’t exactly come out and put a “for sale” sign on Peavy’s lawn or anything, but the tea leaves read in the big, blocked letters you would normally find in a children’s book.

From the moment Garza got sent to the Rangers, the interest in Peavy piqued through the roof. Want to find a team linked to the South Sider? Good luck finding one that isn’t.

The Cubs were able to drive up the price on Garza for a bevy of solid prospects, including the diamond of the deal in right-hander C.J. Edwards. And if power-hitting corner infielder Mike Olt pans out, the Cubbies could have walked away with a damn good haul for a team nosediving its way to Astrodome.

While the White Sox will have a tough time finding that level of return for Peavy—which is weird, considering the two are about equals—Chicago could see a bidding war in the coming days.’s Matthew Leach reported earlier Friday that at least 10 teams had scouts in Chicago for Peavy’s start Thursday against the Detroit Tigers.

Pitching against arguably the game’s most fearsome lineup, Peavy handled himself well. He out-dueled Justin Verlander to get the win, going seven strong innings and striking out nine while spraying 11 hits and four earned runs. It wasn’t a dominant performance by any stretch. He needed 118 pitches to work his way though seven innings and gave up three home runs, two of which he was lucky were solo shots.

That said, Peavy walked away relatively unscathed against Miguel Cabrera and Co., a feat far more impressive than his three home runs against is concerning.

In other words, don’t expect any teams to go walking away from the bargaining table over the next week. Especially with the market in a seeming state of inertia at the moment.

“There are no players anymore,” a team executive told ESPN’s Jayson Stark about the quiet trade market. “I mean that. There’s a real shortage of players.”

In the desert-like conditions of this year’s deadline, Peavy is the RC Cola machine. He’s the best player on the market, a difference-maker who could help bolster the rotation of a contending team. He’ll also come cheaper than Garza, both in terms of prospects and overall cost. Garza is due to hit the free-agent market this winter, and is ineligible for a qualifying offer because he was traded. Peavy is under contract for $14.5 million next season and has an option for $15 million the next.

When trading prospects for Peavy, you’re getting at least 1.4 seasons. When trading them for Garza, the Rangers risked losing the righty this winter. Holding Peavy’s rights undoubtedly helped spark much of the interest, as an innumerable amount of related rumors have come over the hot stoves in recent weeks.’s Scott Merkin reported earlier this week that the Boston Red Sox have discussed a package centered around third baseman Will Middlebrooks. It’s not known whether Boston is pushing Middlebrooks, 24, as a centerpiece or if Chicago is claiming that that’s the cost of doing business. But considering that Middlebrooks was once the golden child within the Red Sox organization, it should be an indicator that the cost of business will be high.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has noted Boston, the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals are seen as the co-favorites of sorts. The Atlanta Braves linger as another darkhorse, with Tim Hudson’s ankle injury leaving question marks in an otherwise excellent rotation. 

And that’s just a little sampling. We’ve seen multiple instances of teams swooping in from nowhere at the last minute to land elite talent, and Peavy might be the latest example.

None of that answers the major question: Is Peavy worth the fuss?

For teams with an actual shot of World Series glory, the answer is certainly yes. Peavy looks fully recovered from his rib injury earlier in the season, returning to the mound after the All-Star break with just about the same velocity as he had prior. While he’s given up six earned runs over 13 innings in those outings, they’ve come against Atlanta and Detroit—two of the very best teams in baseball. Metrically, he was a little below-average in both outings, but any team would be more than happy to have either outing in September and October with Peavy as their second or third starter.

The season as a whole has been an up-and-down affair. Eight of his starts have been considered quality starts, meaning he gave up three or fewer earned runs while going at least six innings. That’s the good. Peavy has also given up six runs on three separate occasions, one of which came against the lowly Cubs.

From an advanced perspective, Peavy’s 2013 is better in line with his frustrating 2011 campaign than any other season in Chicago. His 4.10 FIP would be the second-highest of his career, and he’s also on pace to set a career-low groundball rate—a concern considering that trait has been trending downward each of the past four seasons. And should the campaign end today, Peavy would finish with the highest home run rate of his career.

That’s the bad. His inconsistencies are understandably concerning, which is probably why he’ll fetch a lower haul than Garza. But that’s also exactly why a contender can pounce while they still can.

These numbers are completely out of whack from what we’ve seen from Peavy over the course of his career, leaving some regression to the mean meat still on the bone. His home run rate should especially stabilize over a larger sample, and there’s a reason Peavy has only two career seasons with a FIP over 4.00.

As his ratios stable, his standard stats should do the same. Take a home run here or there away, and you’re looking at a pitcher with a mid-three ERA, solid WHIP and strikeout rate. He’s a damn good pitcher, and he’ll continue being one as he gets more comfortable after his DL stint. 

The question is where he’ll be doing so. Boston and St. Louis, thanks to their penchant for making similar splashes, probably seem like the most natural fits. Atlanta would be interesting, but the Braves need to focus on getting bullpen help before anything else; they’ll be solid in the rotation with or without Peavy.

But the real interesting possibility here remains Oakland. The Athletics, plucky as ever in the Bay Area with their under-appreciated talent and genius general manager, are three games ahead of Texas in the AL West. The Rangers already made their big splash in Garza, and are probably expecting a run of passivity from their biggest divisional rival.

But what if Billy Beane actually went for it? The A’s have the prospects to get a deal done yesterday. They have the infrastructure in place and at least a chance of making a run deep into October. Add Peavy to the mix, and they might just have a shot of keeping the World Series title back in the Bay Area. 

Whether it’s Oakland, Boston or any other team left on the market, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Peavy might have been the secondary target, but he could be the one who decides the race.  


All advanced stats via FanGraphs.


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