Peavy may have to set sail out of Boston
Club exploring options with spirited starter as paint dries on duck boat
Jake Peavy pitched for almost 2,000 innings over 12 big league seasons to get the chance to start a game in the World Series. Few pitchers who have walked in his spikes ever relished the moment more.
Before Peavy's four roller-coaster innings against Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals, he admitted he was heading into "the biggest game up until this point in time I've ever pitched.'' Anybody who knew him knew he would be practically foaming at the mouth when game time arrived, and it did not come as much of a surprise that after the Red Sox finished off the Cards, Peavy bought himself an unusual souvenir -- the duck boat he and his family rode during the World Series parade through Boston.
Peavy told a columnist that he plans to paint the boat in Red Sox colors, including the saying, "Boston Strong.'' He says it will be put to use around his ranch in Alabama, which sits along the Alabama River, but mostly he envisions it as a family treasure, saying that his grandchildren will pass it along to their grandchildren.
This is called being all in, and that's how Peavy rolls.
But for how much longer in Boston?
According to sources with other teams, Peavy's stay with the Red Sox could be limited to the three eventful months in 2013, after the White Sox sent him there in a three-team trade that cost Boston shortstop Jose Iglesias and landed Chicago 22-year-old right fielder Avisail Garcia from Detroit.
Multiple reports from the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., said that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and his staff were gauging interest in their supply of veteran starters. This followed a buzz spreading through the baseball community after the World Series that suggested Boston planned to deal at least one of its starting pitchers with an eight-figure salary to help a lineup that could be decimated by free agency.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Stephen Drew, first baseman Mike Napoli and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia are all on the market, and the team already has about $135 million on its books for 2014. That's only $20 million less than the Opening Day payroll from last season, but the upcoming budget is unknown. It could grow with revenues from the new national broadcast contracts as well as the usual spike from a long postseason run.
But here are some things to keep in mind about Peavy: The Red Sox probably would not have felt the need to add him had Clay Buchholz been healthy, and with Buchholz back, Boston is six deep in experienced starters, with prospects Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo and Drake Britton lined up in the waiting room.
It's an enviable position for any team, especially one that is in danger of losing four-ninths of the lineup that produced a Majors-high 853 runs last season. Executives with other teams say the Red Sox have to exploit the pitching surplus they find themselves with for 2014, after which Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster and Peavy can be free agents.
Signing Lester to an extension will be costly after his heroics in 2013, when he cut his ERA from 4.82 to 3.75 and logged a career-high 213 1/3 innings. It's hard to imagine how Lester could be traded or allowed to leave as a free agent given his contribution to the titles in 2007 and '13, and that leaves Peavy, Dempster and John Lackey as the guys most likely to be dealt.
At 32, Peavy is the kid in this trio. He has worked 200 innings only once in the last six years but makes up for his lack of durability with his machismo. Peavy could be a nice addition for a team looking to add some fire to its rotation, and it would help Cherington's flexibility to save some of the $14.5 million the veteran righty is set to earn.
The Angels are one obvious match. They're seeking starting pitching behind C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver and have an interesting selection of possibly available position players. The Halos have told teams they're not going to move Mark Trumbo, who fits nicely at first base with Albert Pujols likely to become a full-time DH, but center fielder Peter Bourjos or switch-hitting catcher Hank Conger could fit Boston's needs.
Assuming the Red Sox won't deal Peavy within their division, the Rangers and Royals (if they can't re-sign Ervin Santana ) are other possible AL fits. The best thing for Peavy might be to get back to the National League, however, and he seemingly could help teams like the Nationals, Giants, Pirates (in the A.J. Burnett role), Braves, D-backs and Dodgers.
You can't blame Peavy if he wishes his honeymoon in Boston could last longer. But he knows as well as anyone how baseball works, and the guess here is he's going to enjoy himself tremendously in 2014, whether he stays with the Red Sox or moves on.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.