Multi-team trades are always exciting and last night’s deal between the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago White Sox might prove to be one of the bigger deals to be completed before this afternoon’s deadline. Boston strengthened their starting rotation and playoff hopes by picking up Jake Peavy from the White Sox and will also receive reliever Brayan Villareal from Detroit. The Tigers receive shortstop Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, who’ll immediately upgrade their infield defense. Chicago received outfielder Avisail Garcia from the Tigers and three minor leaguers from Boston – shortstop Cleuluis Rondon and right-handers J.B. Wendelken and Francellis Montas.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman first reported just after 7:30 PM EST that the Red Sox and White Sox had a deal in place centered on Peavy. Rob Bradford and Alex Speier of WEEI.com first learned that it would be a three team deal with Detroit involved and confirmed Iglesias’ inclusion.
Boston’s rotation has been fairly strong this season, but there are questions that remain as the team heads into the final two months of the regular season. Clay Buchholz remains sidelined with an injury and how effective he’ll be upon returning remains to be seen. Jon Lester has been inconsistent and it’s unclear how effective Felix Dubront, Ryan Dempster, and John Lackey will be over the remainder of the year. The team has some internal options to fill out the rotation – Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa – but they are all unproven. Peavy makes sense as this team tries to win the ultra-competitive AL East.
Peavy has thrown 80.0 IP for Chicago on the year, going 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.138 WHIP. He missed some time earlier in the year due to a broken rib but has returned without missing a step. His peripheral numbers – a 1.9 BB/9 and 8.6 K/9 – are solid, with the walk rate representing a big improvement from his career average of 2.7 BB/9. Arm issues derailed him for parts of the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons but he’s appeared healthy since, even making the All Star roster and winning a Gold Glove Award last season. He may not be the same pitcher who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2007 with the San Diego Padres, but he’s still a reliable option that can easily be inserted into the Boston starting rotation. He’s under team control for $14.5 Million next season, a sum the Red Sox will reportedly cover in full, and holds a player option (worth $15 Million) for the 2015 season.
Chicago receives four players for Peavy and at first glance, it’s surprising to see they couldn’t get more in return. Garcia could make an immediate impact, but the others are all significantly further away from reaching the Major Leagues.
Garcia ranked as the 74th best prospect in baseball entering the season, according to Baseball America, and has posted impressive numbers at Triple-A Toledo on the year. In 156 PA he’s batted .374/.410/.537. It’s a big leap forward from the .312/.345/.465 line he posted in 226 PA at Double-A during the second half of last season and first week of this one. BA pointed to Garcia’s raw tools and outfield defense in their rankings before the season, suggesting that Garcia could become an All Star caliber right fielder in time. Detroit’s experimented with him in center field at various points over the past two seasons, but he seems better suited for a corner outfield spot long term.
Just 22 years old, Garcia could potentially slide right into the White Sox starting outfield even though he’s struggled at the plate in limited Major League action over the past two seasons. He’s seen 139 PA with the Tigers, hitting .269/.309/.354 with just six extra base hits. Despite struggles with production from their left fielders for the past two seasons, the Tigers never seemed committed towards giving a chance to Garcia to win the role.
Wendelken and Montas both profile long term as relievers, though Montas has a little more upside to his repertoire. He misses bats with consistency (10.1 K/9 in 85.1 IP this season) and threw one of the hardest fastballs in Boston’s entire minor league system, even “touching triple digits with ease”, according to various reports. He’s been working as a starter for Boston’s Class-A Greenville affiliate but his 2-9 record, 5.70 ERA, and 1.477 WHIP all leave something to be desired. Wendelken has thrown 65.0 IP in relief for the same Greenville team, posting a 2.77 ERA and 1.215 WHIP. Rondon has batted .277/.328/.353 in 138 PA for Lowell. He’s just 19 and a strong defender, but offers little offensive potential and profiles as a utility infielder at best.
Detroit’s inclusion in the deal is noteworthy as well given their return. Iglesias will represent an important piece in the short term given the expected suspension facing current Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta. The 23 year old Cuban has been enjoying a breakout season, despite scuffling at the plate over the past five weeks, as Iglesias is hitting .330/.376/.409 on the year. Known for his defensive abilities – he’s arguably one of the top defensive shortstops in all of baseball – Iglesias’ bat has always been a question mark. He’ll provide a significant upgrade in the field for Detroit and if he can continue to hit at such a clip the team will likely view that as an added bonus. Iglesias will never replicate the power potential that Peralta provides, but he should prove to be a viable replacement option in the short term if/when Peralta’s forced to miss the remainder of the season.
Iglesias will also be under Detroit’s control for the foreseeable future. He won’t even be arbitration eligible until following the 2015 season.
Villareal, the final piece in this elaborate puzzle, will offer some additional depth for the Boston bullpen but will likely spend some time back at Triple-A in the short term. The now 26 year old right-hander impressed out of the Detroit bullpen in 2012, posting a 2.63 ERA and 1.207 WHIP in 54.2 IP, but struggled mightily in a brief callup this year (20.77 ERA, 3.692 WHIP, 4.1 IP). He’s got a 3.15 ERA, 1.515 WHIP, and a concerning 6.8 BB/9 with Toledo on the year.
Boston clearly makes out well in this deal, obtaining a starting pitcher in Peavy who’ll offer some depth to a playoff-caliber rotation while only parting with a player at his peak and three spare parts. Adding another depth arm for the bullpen in Villareal is just an extra bonus. Detroit paid a steep price for what amounts in the short term to “shortstop insurance” but there has to be appeal to having Iglesias’ defense anchoring their infield in the years to come. Chicago was certain to move Peavy, saving themselves nearly $20 Million in the process, but obtained little otherwise in return.