Johan Santana dominated the baseball off-season last year. For much of November, December and January, the news began and ended with Santana rumors and shenanigans. This year, while the free agent class is strong, Jake Peavy seems to be the name making the trade rumor rounds.
As everyone knows, we at RAB were stridently opposed to the Santana deal. While we’ll never know for sure, the Yanks seemed to be offering up at least Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes along with some combination of outfield talent in exchange for just one year of Santana and the ability to sign him to a very long-term deal. Considering the money, pre-existing contract and outlay of talent, the Santana deal didn’t make sense to us then, and we have no regrets.
But I personally can’t say the same for Jake Peavy. The Padres are currently shopping the 27-year-old right hander. Peavy is set to make a good chunk of change, and San Diego would prefer to have the payroll flexibility as they attempt to rebuild after a disastrous season. Peavy also has a no-trade clause which complicates the matter.
Prior to this week, reports indicated that Peavy wanted to stay in the NL, and Atlanta had emerged as a clear destination. This week, however, rumors emerged that indicated a willingness on Peavy’s part to come to New York. The Padres are looking to off-load a contract; they want Major League or Major League-ready talent in return; and as everyone knows, it pays to keep the Yanks involved.
The gut reaction of many Yankee watchers is to lump this deal in with the Santana talks. If the Yanks wouldn’t trade for a proven AL lefty, why would they trade for Peavy? In reality, it’s not comparable.
It all boils down to the contract. Peavy is owed a little over $60 million over the next four seasons (with a $22 million option for 2013). For a pitcher just entering his pitching prime, that’s a relative steal. Unlike with Santana, a team acquiring Peavy wouldn’t be paying for just one year; they’d be trading away for four or five years of a pitcher.
Now, could Peavy succeed in the AL? That’s the question a lot of Yankee fans have asked. After all, not only has Peavy been a lifelong NL pitcher, but he’s thrived in the vast reaches of Petco Park. All we can do is look at some numbers. Since Petco opened in 2004, Peavy has pitched quite well there. In 541.2 innings, he has a 2.66 ERA. He has allowed 149 walks, racked up 600 K’s and has surrendered 37 long balls or one every 14.2 innings.
His numbers on the road, however, are rather encouraging. In that same time frame, Peavy has 427 road innings to the tune of a 3.31 ETA. He has allowed 47 home runs, has walked 143 and has struck out 410. Those are some pretty good peripherals. Furthermore, we have some limited numbers against the AL. In his career against American League teams, Peavy has thrown 120.1 innings with the following line: 3.29 ERA, 13 HR, 33 BB, 113 K. All of these numbers suggest the ability to get hitters out in any league.
Basically, this all boils down to the players involved in any potential trade. The contract isn’t an obstacle; Peavy’s stuff and his past success lend credence to the belief that he could pitch at a high level in the AL. I’m not opposed to seeing Ian Kennedy go in a potential deal; I’d be less thrilled to see Phil Hughes go; and I wouldn’t include both of them — or Robinson Cano by himself — in one trade. But if the right offer comes along and Peavy passes his physical, I’d welcome the righty to New York.