It’s pretty simple actually: the Braves starting rotation – as good as it has been – is hanging on by a thread.
- Tim Hudson – out for the year
- Paul Maholm – out indefinitely
- Brandon Beachy – very shaky outing last night; likely only a 5-6 inning guy for rest of year (if that). Reports are coming out of the woodwork now that we shouldn’t expect him to be 100% until Spring. Gee, we brought Meds back slowly last year.
- Alex Wood – growing pains as expected; probably a year ahead of his schedule
- Kris Medlen – yes, his last start was very good, but since the middle of June, his earned runs per start are 4,3,3,3,7,4,4,2. He was good about five weeks at the start of May, and at the beginning of the year, but consistency has not be his forte in 2013.
That pretty much leaves Atlanta with Mike Minor and Julio Teheran as the stalwarts of the rotation. And even Teheran has had his moments – giving up five, four (1 earned), and three runs in consecutive starts vs. Miami (twice) and Cincinnati earlier this month.
Atlanta needs an anchor. And there’s really only one truly available: Jake Peavy.
Yes, there are others out there with some crazy ideas – this one is especially nutty – but trades are 99.99% based in reality. You don’t get Cy Young (or Cliff Lee) at the deadline for pennies on the dollar. You don’t find Hank Aaron on the curb looking for a job.
Working against this idea is that the White Sox haven’t moved Alex Rios. They moved Jesse Crain for sunflower seeds. They failed to get a deal with the Cardinals to send Alexei Ramirez over. They have been seeking high returns for the purpose of re-filling their famine-stricken farm system. But so far – and today is July 30th – absolutely nothing.
This is a failure on the part of the White Sox front office, to be sure. And they need to make some serious decisions today: do they stand pat with a team that’s dead last in their division (behind even the Twins), or tear it up now, knowing that this is the time of year in which the best returns are available.
Enter the Atlanta Braves
Frank Wren doesn’t sleep. He waits. He lurks. And now is the time to take the prey.
Jake Peavy is 32 years old. He’s from Mobile, AL. He is working a five year deal in which he is signed through 2014, with a 2015 player option that will never vest. He’s due about $5.5m for the rest of the year, and $14.5m next year – essentially the same as Justin Upton‘s deal. He would like to be a Brave. Atlanta has pursued him before and fallen short in the effort.
This is certainly not a matter of cash. The Braves will take Brian McCann‘s contract off the books next year, plus receive additional revenue from the new ESPN national contract. They can afford Peavy.
This is not about a long term commitment. He’s signed through 2014. While the “kids” are getting acclimated to the big leagues, Peavy would be another veteran voice – like Tim Hudson – would could mentor them along. But given his value, the Braves could themselves opt to flip Peavy elsewhere next year. Even if he breaks down due to injury, you are not over-exposed on the contract. The hope is that you’d use him as a reliable playoff starter this year… essentially as a younger version of Tim Hudson.
This IS all about prospect costs. Again, that’s where the desperation of the White Sox lays.
The White Sox want somebody to take the contract AND give up significant prospects. That’s simply unrealistic. Even the Red Sox have reportedly balked at this.
Sooner or later (in the next 28 hours or so), Rick Hahn (White Sox GM) will take the best deal he has on the table. He has to. So here is what I propose that the Braves offer for Peavy’s services:
- $10 million to Atlanta. That’s the rest of this year’s deal, plus $4.5m for 2014. Atlanta would then pay Peavy $10m for 2014 – a very reasonable deal for such a veteran.
- One of: J.R. Graham*, Lucas Sims, Mauricio Cabrera, Cody Martin (all starting RHP)
- 3B Edward Salcedo (I just don’t think he’ll get to 3rd as a Brave)
- CF Todd Cunningham (4th outfielder)
- OF Robby Hefflinger (future DH)
- SS Tyler Pastornicky (utility infielder for them)
- RHP David Hale
* Graham has been down with a shoulder issue since June – should be back next year, so despite his position as somewhere from #1-#4 on Braves’ prospect lists, the White Sox might want another option. Cabrera and Sims are both a long way out – at Class A Rome. Martin is at AAA Gwinnett.
Here’s the reasoning. It is reasonable to give up one premium prospect for Peavy – hence Graham/Sims/Cabrera/Martin. The entire rest of the list is a matter of “quantity” for the White Sox, so that they can plainly and accurately say “we have resolved our needs in the farm system”. It’s providing a way for them to save face, frankly. Of the players on that list, most would end up as trade bait for Atlanta within the next year or so. Might as well do that now, when the payoff could be a ticket to the World Series.