White Sox Land Dinged-Up Ace Jake Peavy With Second Try

The
Deal
Vying with the Tigers and Twins for AL Central supremacy, the White Sox acquired 2007 NL Cy Young winner Jake Peavy for the stretch run. In return, the Padres received four tall, young pitchers: lefthanders Aaron Poreda, who was Chicago’s first-round pick in ’07, and Clayton Richard and righthanders Dexter Carter and Adam Russell. It was the second time the teams tried to work a deal for Peavy. The first time, in late May, Peavy exercised his no-trade clause.

The 28-year-old Peavy has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a right ankle tendon injury. He threw a pain-free bullpen session three days after being traded, and is expected to return in late August. Through 13 starts with San Diego this year, Peavy was 6-6, 3.97 with 92 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings. Though he’s a dominant pitcher when healthy, he has benefitted from making half his starts in Petco Park, a hitter’s graveyard. Over the last three years, Peavy’s ERA is 2.72 at home and 3.73 on the road. He’s also given up 11 fewer home runs in nine fewer starts at home.

Away from San Diego, Peavy’s strikeout-to-walk ratio was 2.51, compared with 4.12 at home. Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field is not nealy so pitcher friendly, and coupled with the fact that Peavy will be making a switch to the more rugged American League, his superficial performance figures to take a hit. Regardless, he’s a frontline starter, when healthy, who is secured for the next three seasons at $57 million, with an option for a fourth season.

Peavy throws a five-pitch arsenal, including a curveball and changeup, but mostly he relies on his 90-93 mph fastball, 80-82 slider and high-80s cutter. When he’s healthy, Peavy will join Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Jose Contreras in Ozzie Guillen’s rotation.

The Young
Players
With a physical 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame, Poredo pounds the strike zone with his power fastball that sits in the mid-90s and has touched 100. The 22-year-old also throws a sharp, mid-80s slider and an average changeup. In 11 starts for Double-A Birmingham, Poreda was 5-4, 2.38 before earning a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte and then the big leagues. He made 10 big league relief appearances, and struck out 12 batters in 11 innings for the White Sox. A ’07 first-round pick out of San Francisco, Poreda performed very well in the Arizona Fall League last offseason. Given his two-pitch repertoire, Poreda could profile as a shutdown reliever, though most think he ought to be given a chance to start.

Richard, 25, ranked as the White Sox’ second-best pitching prospect coming into the year. He reached Chicago at the end of last season, after emerging with a fine campaign at Charlotte. The White Sox selected Richard in the eighth round of the 2005 draft, five rounds after taking fellow Michigan product Chris Getz.

Through 14 starts this year, Richard was 4-3, 4.65 with 66 strikeouts in 89 innings. He pitched arguably the best two games of his career in his last two starts before being traded. Both times he went eight innings while allowing only one run. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Richard is athletic and sets the tempo on the mound. He throws an 89-92 mph fastball with natural sink, an 82-84 slider and a 78-82 slider. None of his pitches grade out as plus, but Richard hides the ball well, and has drawn comparisons to Mark Buehrle. He induces lots of groundballs and should benefit from the expansive Petco Park. He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter, and can pitch out of the bullpen if necessary.

Russell, 26, was a sixth-round pick out of Ohio in 2004. Though he pitched as a starter until 2008, Russell has worked exclusively out of the bullpen since then. In 34 appearances for Charlotte, Russell was 2-2, 3.20 with 51 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. A big-bodied 6-foot-8, 255-pound righty, he likes to alter his arm angle. Russell mostly throws from a three-quarters slot, but he also drops down to side-arm every now and then. Since he is so big, Russell has an awkward delivery and has difficulty repeating it. He throws a mid-90s fastball, with an occasionally-sharp curveball, though his changeup isn’t very good. Russell needs to become more consistent before contributing to a big league bullpen.

Carter, 22, is a strikeout machine. Though he didn’t pitch much collegiately at Old Dominion because of control problems, the 2008 13th-round pick has cut down on his walks in his first full season. A little old for the level, Carter went 6-2, 3.13 with 143 strikeouts in 118 innings for low Class A Kannapolis. He throws a low-90s fastball and a sharp 12-to-6 curveball. He also mixes in an average changeup. The 6-foot-6, 195-pound Carter creates good downhill plane and drives the ball toward home plate with his motion. It’s hard to say where Carter will end up, but a mid-rotation starter is his ceiling.

Quick
Take
While Peavy is injured and may not make an immediate impact for the White Sox, he could play an important role in September. After the Tigers made the move to acquire Jarrod Washburn, Chicago general manager Kenny Williams, always looking to improve his team, got a former Cy Young award winner. Best of all, Peavy may stay on the South Side through the 2013 season.

Though it’s not known what prospects Williams dangled for Peavy in the first trade attempt, this time he sent a package of four promising pitchers to San Diego. Three of the four pitchers acquired by the Padres have power arms (excepting Richard), and three of the four are near big league ready (excepting Carter).

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