Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams has several players under long-term, unmovable contracts. Jake Peavy is one of several big-money disappointments Williams has acquired over the past few seasons.
Eventually, the oft-injured starter could prove to be of value to an organization. It just won't be next year, and it likely won't be for the White Sox.
Since Williams traded three players for the 2007 Cy Young award winner with the Padres, Peavy has pitched in 39 games. He has gone 17-13 since donning a Sox uniform late in the 2009 season. He has been on the disabled list for significant parts of those two-and-a-half seasons. He has taken almost $35 million in salary from Chicago.
By way of comparison, Clayton Richard, the tall lefty who was the centerpiece of the package the White Sox sent west, has pitched in 63 games since the trade. He has a 24-20 record. San Diego has paid him about a million dollars in his time with the club.
The Padres paid Richard a million dollars for 24 wins. Chicago has shelled out twice that salary for each of Peavy's victories.
What's even worse than the thievery is the fact that Peavy was obtained to be the dominant ace Chicago's rotation has lacked despite having a host of quality arms. Peavy has certainly talked the talk of an ace.
Unfortunately, his body can't hold up its end of the bargain. Whether missing time to an inured ankle, rotator cuff tendinitis or a detached shoulder muscle, Peavy has not been the hurler Williams sought.
Peavy's salary climbs to $17 million in 2012, the last year of his contract originally signed with San Diego. There is a $22 million option the White Sox could trigger for 2013, but there is little to no chance of that happening.
Instead, the White Sox are faced with one of the following scenarios:
A. Peavy plods through another injury-filled season, finishes 8-9 and moves on when the White Sox exercise the $4 million buyout.
B. Peavy's shoulder comes around and he posts a fairly impressive 14-6 mark. He goes to Williams and says, "You know, you guys paid me a lot of money to sit on the DL these last three-and-a-half years. Let's call the buyout a signing bonus on a three-year deal at $6 million to $7 million per?"
C. Peavy pitches well, is healthy for the first time in years, then bolts to the highest bidder when Williams has the gall to balk at the $22 million option. He then goes out and wins 18 games for someone else.
In 2013, Peavy will find himself signing at a greatly reduced salary and will be more than two years removed from surgery. It is very possible that he'll be a much better value when he isn't being paid Cy Young-winner type of money.
Too bad for Williams that option B isn't usually how baseball works these days.