Analyzing the Last of the Deadline Deals
In a transaction that wasn't consummated until minutes before the trading deadline at 4 p.m. ET last Friday, the San Diego Padres sent Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox for Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Dexter Carter, and Adam Russell.
Although the trade wasn't popular with the San Diego media, I actually understand this deal more from the perspective of the Padres than the White Sox for three reasons:
1. The Friars are rebuilding for the future and trying to load up on good, young arms that can help the club in 2010 and beyond.
2. At $52 million over the next three seasons, Peavy's contract ($15M in 2010, $16M in 2011, $17M in 2012, and a $22M club option in 2013 with a $4M buyout) was a liability for an ownership short on cash.
3. Peavy is currently on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right ankle and not expected back until late August. The unanimous 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner threw a 50-pitch bullpen on Sunday but will need a few more such sessions and a couple of minor league starts before joining Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Jose Contreras in the White Sox rotation for the final five weeks or so.
Peavy is a fantastic pitcher when healthy but, like an overpriced stock, may not be a good value at this point. He is clearly worth more to a team like the White Sox than the Padres.
In the meantime, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Richard has begun to pay dividends for his new team, allowing one run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings in his NL debut on Saturday. The former University of Michigan backup quarterback should benefit from a change in leagues and home ballparks. The soon-to-be 26-year-old lefthander throws a low-90s fastball with sinking action plus a slider and change, and figures to be a mainstay in San Diego's rotation for the next several years.
Poreda, however, was the key to this deal. A first-round draft pick out of the University of San Francisco in 2007, the 6-6, 240-pound southpaw is a hard-throwing, groundball-inducing machine. He won't turn 23 until October yet has succeeded at every level, including 10 games and 11 innings in relief for the White Sox earlier this season. Poreda has started 48 of his 52 games in the minors and will be given a long look at one of the five spots in the rotation next spring.
The most intriguing pitcher in the group may be Carter, a 6-6, 22-year-old righthander who leads the minors in strikeouts with 143 in 118 innings (10.9 K/9). A project coming out of Old Dominion as a 13th-round draftee in 2008, Carter has whiffed 232 batters in 176 2/3 IP thus far in the low minors. According to Paul DePodesta, his fastball "runs anywhere between 87 and 93 mph" and Baseball America credits him with "a swing-and-miss curveball." He is being brought along slowly and is unlikely to reach Petco Park until 2012.
Russell, 26, was converted into a reliever in 2008. At 6-8 with a mid-90s heater, he is another tall, hard-throwing pitcher. His secondary pitches and command aren't particularly special although his curveball "rates as a plus pitch at times" in the words of Baseball America. He reported to Triple-A Portland and could be brought up to the bigs for a look-see in September when the rosters are expanded.
The Padres have now made two trades during the past month that have landed them seven young power arms, including four that had pitched in the majors prior to their arrival in San Diego. In addition to Richard, Poreda, Carter, and Russell, San Diego added Sean Gallagher, Ryan Webb, and Craig Italiano in a July 5 deal that sent outfielder Scott Hairston to the Oakland A's. Although Gallagher was the PTBNL in that 3-for-1 trade, he is just 23 years old and has already pitched parts of three seasons in the majors. The righthander has a terrific minor-league record (39-17, 2.73 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 0.5 HR/9) but needs to improve his command and makeup to reach his potential.
In Peavy, the White Sox get an eight-year veteran who is only 28 years old. General manager Kenny Williams pursued him in May but was unable to convince Peavy to waive the no-trade provision in his contract. The righthander could be a difference maker down the stretch if he can get his legs back in shape and regain his arm strength. However, let's not forget that Peavy (whose career ERA is a full run lower at home than on the road) will be going from the NL to the AL and from a pitcher's park (Petco Park) to a hitter's park (U.S. Cellular Field). Think Matt Holliday when he went from the Colorado Rockies and Coors Field to the Oakland A's and McAfee Coliseum.
While it may take two or three years before the Padres are competing for division titles and wild card berths again, management is focused on building an organization with more athleticism, depth, and sustainability than before. With the foregoing in mind, look for the Padres to sign high school draft picks Donavan Tate, Everett Williams, and Keyvius Sampson in the next two weeks and possibly move Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell, and Chris Young during the off-season or next summer if the price is right. Fans will need to be as patient as the ownership and front office, but the change in direction is likely to pay off in due time.