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MLB Trade Deadline: Matt Garza Trade Forces Jake Peavy Into Spotlight

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy

Jul 20, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at US Cellular Field. Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The long-rumored Matt Garza trade finally happened as the Chicago Cubs dealt the starter to the Texas Rangers this week. Garza, understandably, was a hot commodity. The right-hander was 6-1, striking out nearly a batter an inning, and had a 3.17 ERA with the Cubs. Desired by many teams as potentially the best starting pitcher on the market, he finally found a new home in the American League with the Rangers. With his trade, attention has turned to another starter.

Jake Peavy.

Peavy is an interesting case to say the least. The pitcher has been injured part of this summer, but when it comes right down to it he may be the best starter on the market. This year Peavy is 7-4 with a 4.19 ERA and 63 strikeouts. Much of the trepidation in dealing for him has been the rib injury he sustained over the summer. Peavy missed about six weeks due to the setback.

However, Peavy seems to have answered those in part with his last outing against the Braves. He went six strong innings, giving up only two earned runs and throwing a total of 96 pitches only a few days ago. That alone won’t be enough to convince potential suitors, but by going six innings, he certainly answered some of the critics about his recent injury.

For good reason, Peavy is drawing a good amount of interest.

First things first, there’s always a lack of quality starting pitching on the market. In addition, if you factor in that Ricky Nolasco and Garza have already been dealt, there’s even less. Peavy, if for no other reason, is in demand because of the lack of available starters.

One interesting aspect of any deal would be his contract. Peavy is owed a good bit of money. Not only is he due the remainder of a $14.5 million deal in 2013, but he could cash in over the next two seasons. Peavy will make $14.5 million more in 2014 and then could possibly be owed a $15 million payday in 2015 with a player option.

That money in 2015 isn’t guaranteed since, according to Baseball-Reference, he would need to throw 400 innings this year and next to be eligible to receive the payout. Having missed so much time this year (he’s currently pitched only 73 innings), reaching that mark is a bit of a long shot. But should he become Superman and pitch the required innings in 2014, that’s something teams will need to consider. All told, Peavy could be owed over $35 million through 2015.

Despite the financial aspect, there are several interested teams. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman says the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox are potential suitors. Apparently, a Cardinals’ scout was present for his last start. Those are two teams not in dire need of pitching, but that could use one additional starter.

If a team has the money to afford him, Peavy isn’t a terrible risk. He had the injury issue this year, but with only potentially one year on his deal, he’s not a long-term anchor. Plus, with the way he’s pitched over the past two seasons, he has proven to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter when healthy. $14.5 million next year isn’t cheap, but if he’s healthy, it won’t be an amount that paralyzes a team.

With the number of quality starting pitchers dwindling, expect all eyes to turn to Jake Peavy.

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