The Giants have decided to act instead of react to the growing list of player injuries that has beset them in the past week. With Matt Cain out indefinitely with an elbow injury, the Giants made a move to patch up their starting rotation. This morning, the Giants acquired right-hander Jake Peavy from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for minor leaguers Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. Peavy will immediately take the spot of fill-in starter Yusmeiro Petit and is already slated to toe the rubber for the Giants in Sunday night’s game against the Dodgers.
The 33-year-old veteran and former National League Cy Young winner had been struggling through a down year with the Red Sox, posting a dismal 1-9 record with a 4.72 ERA. The home run ball has been Peavy’s main irritant in 2014, as he’s given up 20 long balls in 124 innings. That rate of home runs is out of line with his career rate, so the Giants hope that a regression to the norm plus a shift to the more fly ball-friendly AT&T will get Peavy back on track. Peavy has still retained a reasonably healthy strikeout rate this year and last season helped lead the Red Sox to a World Championship as a key member of the pitching staff down the stretch.
Peavy should also benefit from a reunion with manager Bruce Bochy. Bochy was the manager of the San Diego Padres when Peavy broke into the league in 2002, and oversaw Peavy when the pitcher had brilliant seasons in 2004 and 2005. Peavy isn’t the nasty flamethrower that he was then, but he’s a clear upgrade over Petit and a solid insurance policy if Cain is out for much of the rest of the season, which is what this moves hints at.
Peavy was the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner with the Padres, going 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA and a league-leading 240 strikeouts. He fell victim to arm troubles in the ensuing years and was traded to the White Sox, where he put up a few sub-mediocre years before seeing his career resurrected with a terrific season for Chicago in 2012. He was dealt to Boston at last year’s trade deadline and was effective in ten starts with the Sox, eventually starting Game Three of last year’s World Series.
In order to get Peavy, the Giants sent AAA pitchers Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree to Boston. Both players were ranked by Baseball America before the season as top ten prospects in the Giants’ farm system. Escobar was a left-handed starter who had risen rapidly with impressive showings in A-ball and AA. His 5.11 ERA in AAA Fresno this season looks ugly, but the Pacific Coast League is an extreme hitters league and Escobar was young for the level.
I wrote about Hembree somewhat extensively this spring. Once seen as a shoo-in future closer in San Francisco, Hembree has struggled a bit with injuries and control problems. Still, Hembree saved 18 games as Fresno’s closer this season and struck out 10.5 batters per nine innings.
The Red Sox will split the remainder of the $5 million owed to Peavy this season. The Red Sox’s willingness to pay part of Peavy’s remaining salary is the big reason they were able to get not one, but two prospects in the deal. Peavy also has a $15 million player option for 2015 that he can exercise if he reaches 190 innings pitched (or, 66 more innings with the Giants) and stays off the disabled list.