Three years ago at the trade deadline, the Chicago White Sox traded for Jake Peavy.
Yay! Peavy was a really good pitcher!
The White Sox also traded for Jake Peavy's contract.
Uh-oh. That contract had three seasons and $52 million guaranteed. Which seemed like a lot of money when Peavy went 14-13 over the next two seasons, with a 4.77 ERA. He was, putting it quite frankly, a colossal waste of many millions of dollars in both 2010 and '11.
There's sort of a happy ending, though. Peavy's making $17 million this season, and he's almost sort of been worth it. Peavy was an All-Star this summer, and he currently ranks eighth in strikeouts and ERA, sixth in strikeout-to-walk ratio. If the White Sox hang on and win the A.L. Central, Peavy's probably worth that $17 million, especially if he makes two or three good starts in October.
And it doesn't have to be an ending. The White Sox can have Peavy next season, too, if they want. According to Jon Heyman, they don't really want:
Word is the White Sox have signaled to Peavy they are unlikely to pick up his $22 million club option for 2013, meaning they'd pay the $4 million buyout and effectively make him a free agent.
The White Sox may yet try to re-sign Peavy after declining that high option. But it's not easy to envision them paying him enough to entice him to re-sign before the free-agency period.
This seems an odd move, considering that the real cost of retaining Peavy would be $18 million rather than $22 million; they're spending that other $4 million either way. I think you don't exercise the option if a) you've got somebody who's roughly as good, but cheaper, or b) you think that Peavy won't be as good next year.
I'm wondering which of those applies here.