The reigning World Series-champion Red Sox, whose faint playoff hopes seem to have died with their four-game losing streak, began their sell-off Saturday, sending duck boat captain and veteran righthander Jake Peavy to the Giants for a pair of Triple-A pitchers, lefthander Edwin Escobar and righthanded reliever Heath Hembree.
San Francisco leads the National League West by a half-game over the Dodgers, but the recent injury to Matt Cain left the Giants searching for another dependable starter. Unwilling or unable to fork over the prospects for David Price—and the money to keep him beyond 2015—they settle for Peavy, who pitched for manager Bruce Bochy in San Diego from 2002-06.
Just 1-9 this season, Peavy is winless in 15 starts dating to May 1, though he’s pitched at least six innings in 17 of 20 starts. For Boston, the deletion of Peavy allows it to move a younger starter such as Felix Doubront, Brandon Workman or Allen Webster into the rotation to audition for 2015.
RED SOX ACQUIRE
Edwin Escobar, lhp
Despite his mighty struggles this season, the Giants remained optimistic about Escobar because of his youth and advancement. At 22, he’s nearly five years younger than the average player in the Pacific Coast League. He struggled with his breaking ball early in the season, leading to a glut of walks. A solidly built-lefthander, Escobar has a feel for pitching and a three-pitch mix when at his best, sitting at 92-93 mph. The Futures Game certainly wasn’t a good audition, as he gave up three hits and a run in his one inning, throwing 26 pitches and exhibiting modest arm speed.
Heath Hembree, rhp
Unlike Escobar, Hembree impressed in his all-star showcase, throwing a scoreless inning for the PCL in the Triple-A all-star game. But it’s been an up-and-down season for the man once positioned to be the Giants’ closer of the future. A hard thrower, Hembree has struggled to command the zone and has yet to harness an effective offspeed pitch. He’s alternated good month and bad, starting with a strong April. But his home and road splits are stark, as he assembled an 0.56 ERA at home, but a 6.17 on the road with all five of his homers allowed. At his best, he pitches at 92-95 mph, flashing higher in the past, with a slider that flashes above average.
Jake Peavy, rhp
Service time (preseason): 11.101. Contract status: $15 million player option in 2015.
The trade to the Giants marks the third time in five years that Peavy has been traded within days of the July 31 trade deadline.
Now 33, the once-fireballing righthander has seen his strikeout rate slip, while his walk rate has risen above his career norms in the past two seasons. In fact, his control hasn’t been this shaky since 2003, his sophomore season in the big leagues. Peavy had some injury issues from 2009-11, missing extensive action on the disabled list, but he’s actually been fairly durable the past three seasons, making 32, 23 and 20 starts.
The problem is he’s not been near as effective in that time. His ERA and home run rate on fly balls are all sharply higher than a year ago, and his 20 home runs allowed lead the American League. Still, he’s moving to a park that is less homer-friendly than Fenway, into a division with a few other nice pitcher’s parks and into the non-DH league.