At Home Plate: Peavy extension is a head-scratcher

The Chicago White Sox locked up former All-Star starting pitcher Jake Peavy to a two-year, $29 million extension recently with the hope that he builds off a consistent 2012 season.

But looking at his recent history, Peavy made out like a bandit in this deal.

Sure, he made 32 starts this past season with a 3.37 ERA in 219 innings, but he was just 11-12. He was expected to be the team’s ace, but young lefty Chris Sale filled that role.

Jake Peavy (Photo b Keith Allison, used under Creative Commons License)

Jake Peavy (Photo b Keith Allison, used under Creative Commons License)

Of course, Peavy expressed his desire to remain with the White Sox rather than test free agency. That’s because there’s little chance he would have earned as much on the open market.

Peavy’s red flags can viewed right in his stat line. After being traded to Chicago at the trade deadline in 2009, Peavy has pitched three seasons with the White Sox.

Aside from the 32 starts this past season, he only managed 35 starts combined in the prior two seasons dealing with injuries. During that time, he was 14-13, which isn’t exactly the record of an ace.

Peavy was the ideal candidate to receive a contract laden with incentives. Based on his injury history, there’s no telling how effective he will be, so having incentives would ensure that the White Sox got a return on their investment.

With Sale, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Jose Quintana, the White Sox rotation was in decent shape without Peavy. They could have searched for a cheaper option to fill out the fifth spot and used their funds to address other needs.

No one is going to knock Peavy talent wise. When he’s on the mound and pitching at the top of his game, he’s a solid middle-of-the-rotation option. He’s no longer the shut-down player he was in San Diego, but that doesn’t mean that he’s completely ineffective.

The issue here is the money. Nearly $15 million per season for a .500 pitcher who has only made 30-plus starts in one of the past three seasons? It’s very strange.

Sale’s emergence has taken some of the pressure off Peavy in terms of leading the rotation. Yet, he will be paid like an ace, so fans will expect him to perform like an ace.

If things don’t work out for Peavy, he could be a trade option at this or next year’s July deadline. He’d have either one year left on his contract — which the White Sox would have to eat some of it — or he would be a free agent the following season.

While Chicago’s starting rotation appears intact already heading into 2013, the decision to lock up Peavy for two years and $29 million is curious to say the least.

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