Before last night, Jake Peavy's career could be neatly split into two parts: his glory days with the Padres and his somewhat maddening and slightly disappointing years with the White Sox. It was a nice clean schism. But now there's a third section to be written in his time with the Boston Red Sox. I hope it goes well for him and that he gets to see the playoffs again for the first time since 2006. And while we won't really be able to say how the White Sox come out in this trade until a few seasons down the road, we're far enough removed from the trade that brought Peavy to Chicago to look at just how well that worked out.
In May of 2009, the White Sox first attempted to trade for the Jakemeister. He shot the deal down, citing family reasons. He injured himself running the bases the next day against the Cubs, wound up on the DL, and ultimately agreed to essentially the exact same trade at the deadline. In exchange for Peavy, the White Sox sent four pitchers out west: Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard, Dexter Carter, and Adam Russell. Let's take a look out how that worked out for San Diego.
Poreda was the headliner in this package. He was also the first sexy first round pick of the White Sox in a couple years, breaking away from the Lance Broadways and Kyle McCullochs of the previous scouting regime. The tall lefty threw absolute gas and had little trouble at Winston-Salem and Birmingham in 2008. He entered the 2009 season as Baseball America's 63rd best prospect. He went back to Birmingham, where issues with walks began to creep into the picture. The Sox brought him up to the majors in June to mixed results. He struck out 12 hitters over 11 innings and recored an ERA+ of 197, but had a WHIP of 1.545. SSS and all, but he was also a 22-year-old getting his first taste of the bigs.
Something happened though when he left the Sox farm system. He lost all control of his pitches. He was still getting hitters to strikeout at a high rate, but the floodgates opened in regards to walking hitters and Poreda never managed to close them. His K/BB ratio went from being in the 2-3 range to being below 1.0. That's not a recipe for success at all. His career as a starter more or less ended, he last saw the majors in 2009, and has not pitched in the minors yet this year. He provided exactly 0.0 bWAR for the Padres.
The Joker was the other main piece in the trade. The lefty had played quarterback briefly for the University of Michigan before realizing his future was not on the gridiron. Richard pitched well in the upper minors, not striking a great deal of hitters out, but not walking many at all either. His approach worked well enough to warrant a spot in the majors in 2009, in which the 25-year-old managed to be a league average pitcher for the Sox over 89 innings. A cost-controlled league average southpaw is an attractive thing, and the Padres agreed.
Unfortunately for San Diego, Richard would never again top the 101 ERA+ mark he had for the Sox that season. He was never truly bad until this season, always managing an ERA+ in the 90s, but he only managed to pitch two full seasons and when you're a little below league average, you're a replacement level player at best. The Padres have paid Richard just shy of $9MM for 0.3 bWAR of production. That's the high point for their return in this trade.
Carter was a less-heralded prospect than the others, though he was well-loved around these parts. The Old Dominion product had a great year for Kannapolis in 2009, with 4.47 K/BB over 118 innings. He was shooting up the sparse White Sox prospect list before being included in the Peavy trade. Much like Poreda, he lost his control and command when joining the Padre's farm system before finding his way back to Kannapolis in 2011. Since then he has been pitching for the Independent Winnipeg Goldeneyes and Gary SouthShore Railcats.
Who could forget good old Nessie? Russell was the bullpen vulture well before Nate Jones emerged on the scene. Despite being a below average pitcher in 2008, he managed to be 4-0 by coming in and blowing the lead only to have the capable offense pick him right back up. Russell managed to be a complete non-factor for the Padres over 28 innings before being included in a trade to bring Jason Bartlett to the Padres. Bartlett then went on to make $9.5MM for -0.4 bWAR in San Diego.
All of which brings us back to Jake Peavy. The White Sox wanted the young ace that had been so dominant for the Padres. They got an oft-injured, yet effective starter willing to do whatever it took to win. Sometimes that bit him in the ass, but no one could claim Peavy didn't put everything he had into his White Sox career after initially rubbing the fan base the wrong way when shooting down the first trade. The Sox lost essentially nothing to the Padres in the trade. Was the $58MM they spent on Peavy for 10.1 bWAR of production an overpay? Yes, but not a drastic one. For a team that has the money to somewhat overpay for production like the White Sox, the initial Jake Peavy trade worked out pretty damn well. It's now up to Avisail Garcia and friends to make the second one look good too.