Jake Peavy could be on the move from the White Sox before next week's trading deadline. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)
By Rob Rains
Jake Peavy will be on the mound for the Chicago White Sox Thursday afternoon against the Tigers’ Justin Verlander, a matchup of former Cy Young winners that ordinarily would not need any extra hype.
Add in the fact that the trading deadline is six days away, however, with Peavy definitely on the market, and the matchup gets even more attractive and newsworthy.
The Cardinals are known to have interest in the 32-year-old Peavy, along with several other teams, as they explore possible external options to upgrade both their rotation and bullpen.
The biggest question teams scouting Peavy want answered is whether he is healthy. He has made only one start since June 4, when he suffered a broken rib. In that start, last Saturday against Atlanta, Peavy worked six innings allowing seven hits and two earned runs. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.
For the season, he is 7-4 in 12 starts for the last place White Sox, a team 19 games under .500, with a 4.19 ERA.
Peavy is a 12-year major-league who logged seven years with the Padres before he was traded to the White Sox in 2009. He won the Cy Young award in 2007, the best season of his career, when he was 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA. Last season was the first time since 2007 that Peavy was healthy enough to make more than 30 starts and pitch more than 200 innings.
Peavy is signed through the 2014 season with a yearly salary of $14.5 million. He also has a player’s option for 2015 worth $15 million which vests if he reaches 400 innings pitched combined in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but his injury this year is going to make it difficult to reach that total.
The Cardinals are known to have scouted Peavy, and a scout from the White Sox has been at Busch Stadium the last two nights. In addition, other White Sox scouts have been scouting the Cardinals’ farm system.
Based on the package of prospects the Cubs received from Texas for Matt Garza, who merely is a three-month rental, the Cardinals would likely have to part with at least one front-line prospect and a couple of secondary prospects to acquire Peavy.
There were some media reports in Chicago that linked pitcher Carlos Martinez to trade talks with the White Sox. The Cardinals to this point have shown no interest in including any of their top prospects in a possible deal, but might have to change that stance in order to acquire Peavy or another front-line starter.
Peavy would project as the number two starter in the Cardinals’ rotation, behind Adam Wainwright, and ahead of Shelby Miller, Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn. He potentially also could be part of a 2014 rotation of Wainwright, Miller, Lynn and Jaime Garcia, with rookie Michael Wacha a candidate if Garcia is not recovered from this year’s surgery.
Peavy’s start on Thursday will be the 295th of his major-league career, but he has started only two postseason games, in the Division Series for the Padres in 2005 and 2006, in which he was 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA.
He has a 6-0 lifetime record against the Cincinnati Reds and a 5-2 career mark against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cardinals’ top two division rivals, but has not pitched against either team since 2009.
Some scouts are divided about whether Martinez, 21, or Wacha, 22, is the Cardinals’ top pitching prospect. Martinez will turn 22 in September. There also are some scouts and people in the organization who are divided on whether Martinez projects better as a starter or reliever in the major leagues.
Martinez has pitched in 10 games for the Cardinals this season, all in relief, with no record and a 5.56 ERA. Six of the seven runs he allowed came in two games. He had only pitched in two games, a total of 2 1/3 innings, since being recalled from Triple A Memphis just before the All-Star break before pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning on Wednesday night, recording two groundouts and a fly ball.
At Memphis, where he made eight starts, Martinez was 3-2 with a 1.98 ERA. He began this season at Double A Springfield, where he was 1-0 in three starts with a 2.31 ERA.
Another team believed to have serious interest in Peavy is the Boston Red Sox, who reportedly have considered putting third baseman Will Middlebrooks into a possible deal. The Braves also might have an interest in Peavy after losing starter Tim Hudson Wednesday night because of a broken ankle.
The trading deadline is at 3 p.m. on July 31.