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Trade Retrospective: Red Sox get Jake Peavy from the White Sox in a three-team trade

It was a good trade for all teams involved, but unfortunately the White Sox didn’t get what they were hoping for.

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

For the fourth straight offseason, BtBS is looking back on some of the biggest trades from years past. Check out all the entries here. This series was first started in 2016 by Spencer Bingol, who has been part of the Red Sox Baseball Operations department for the past two years. Congratulations to Spencer on the team’s recent World Series championship!

At the 2013 trade deadline, the Red Sox, White Sox, and Tigers executed a blockbuster trade. The Red Sox got former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy from Chicago, as well as reliever Brayan Villarreal from Detroit. The White Sox got Avisail García from Detroit, and Frankie Montas, J.B. Wendelken, and Cleuluis Rondón from Boston. Finally, the Tigers got José Iglesias from Boston.

In this trade retrospective series, trades will be evaluated based on what was known at the time. That is the only fair, logical way to evaluate trades and strip luck out of the equation: process over results. Having said that, we will still take a look at how the trade worked out for both parties.

The Deal

The Boston Red Sox were neck and neck with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the division. They had a good starting rotation, and Clay Buchholz especially was having a phenomenal season with a 1.71 RA9. The problem was that he had not pitched since June 8th due to a neck strain, and it was not clear when he would return. In such a tight division race, the Sox were in no position to give the ball to Allen Webster or Alfredo Aceves every fifth day.

Peavy was not exactly his vintage self, despite coming off a 5 WAR season in 2012 that turned out to be an outlier. Still, a 4.61 RA9 and 5.3 BB% were improvements over what the Red Sox were getting from the back of the rotation. He was not a rental, either, as he still had one more year on his contract.

The Red Sox were smart to sell high on Iglesias. On the surface, it looked like he was assuaging fears that he would never hit, but his .330 AVG was the definition of an empty batting average. His full line was .330/.376/.409. He walked only 4.7 percent of the time and had a paltry .079 ISO. To make matters worse, that average was helped by a .376 BABIP.

When you live in Boston and happen to be married to a hardcore Red Sox fan, you tend to watch a lot of Red Sox games, and I remember Iglesias very well that year. I didn’t even need to see his BABIP — which was over .500 at one point — to know that his batting average was a fluke. His swing was great at making contact, but not for power. I remember thinking that the vast majority of his hits were luck, as the balls he hit in play were not hit hard. They just happened to land in the right places and find the right holes.

Moreover, the Red Sox were set at shortstop for the present and future. Stephen Drew was doing a great job there, and Xander Bogaerts was waiting to make his debut that September.

As we all know, then-GM Dave Dombrowski was smart enough to know that what Iglesias was doing was unsustainable. The thing is that the Tigers needed a shortstop, and when your glove is as special as that of Iglesias, you don’t need to hit much at all. Jhonny Peralta was the incumbent shortstop at the time, but it was believed that he would soon be suspended for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. He was also going to be a free agent, so Dombrowski had to prepare for the future.

The Tigers were also in a tight division race with Cleveland. Losing a shortstop who was hitting .308/.363/.460 could deal a major blow to their chances at winning the division. Even with his defense, it was unlikely that Iglesias would completely make up for the loss of Peralta, but it was definitely the best move the Tigers could make. This infield defense could use all the help it could get, anyway.

The White Sox were one of the worst teams in baseball in 2013. Chris Sale was becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball, and José Quintana was very good too, but there was a considerable drop-off after that. They did not have any hitters whom you could describe as comfortably above average. This team won 85 games the year before, but suffered a huge decline in 2013 for reasons we will not get into here. To make matters worse, their farm system was one of the worst in baseball. It was time to rebuild.

The headliner of the deal was García, while the other three players included were more or less lottery tickets. He was not a blue-chipper by any means, though, and you would have a hard time finding him on any top 100 prospect rankings. He was one of the Tigers’ best prospects, but that was more of a reflection of how poor their farm system was. The team was in win-now mode, so the state of its farm system was not really important.

García was seen to have the ceiling of a middle-of-the-order bat, and despite his large size, he had the arm, speed, and athleticism to be an above-average defensive outfielder in a corner. However, his size did raise concerns about how his defense would fare as he ages. His raw power graded out as a 70, but scouts were divided on whether or not his hit tool would develop enough to access that power in game. Some scouts were bullish that it could, while others were concerned that his aggressive approach and lack of ability to make adjustments during at-bats would make him nothing more than a fourth outfielder.

All in all, this trade made sense for all the teams involved. The Red Sox did not need Iglesias anymore, so trading him for a needed starter was the reasonable thing to do. The Tigers needed a shortstop, and getting one for García was a good deal. As for the White Sox, getting a player with a decent ceiling despite the risks was the best they were going to do for a back-end starter they did not need anymore.

The Results

Well, the Red Sox won the World Series, and coincidentally they beat the Tigers in the ALCS on the way there. Peavy did well for the Red Sox down the stretch with a 4.04 RA9 over his 10 starts with the team. He was terrible in the playoffs, unfortunately, giving up 10 runs over his three starts. He still got to win his one and only championship, and even bought a duck boat after the parade!

The Red Sox crashed and burned in 2014, and Peavy himself was not much better with a 4.86 RA9 over 20 starts before the team decided to trade him the Giants. He was surprisingly good with the Giants despite his persistent poor strikeout rates. He finished his last 12 starts with a 2.75 RA9, though that was helped by a flukish 3.2 percent HR/FB. The Giants decided to re-sign him on a two-year, $24 million deal. He continued to be a decent back end starter in 2015, but lost it completely in final season with a 5.76 RA9. There were extenuating circumstances to that, though, as Peavy was dealing with the fallout involving his financial adviser losing $15 million to $20 million of his money in a Ponzi-like scheme. Believe it or not, Peavy has not yet officially retired.

Iglesias did indeed regress with the Tigers, hitting .259/.306/.348 for the rest of the season. He then suffered the misfortune of missing the entire 2014 season due to stress fractures in both shins. He came back in 2015 and actually hit well for a shortstop with a line of .300/.347/.370. However, there was still no power, even though a 97 wRC+ was likely better than anyone was expecting from him. The biggest problem was that his previous injury was affecting his defense. He was still probably a plus defender, but probably not much more than that. He was much better the following couple of years in the field, but his offense had slipped down to a .283 wOBA, down over 30 points from 2015. He bounced back last year by hitting .269/.310/.389, but he now has a career 83 wRC+. He became a free agent after last season and recently signed a minor league deal with the Reds.

The White Sox are actually still rebuilding, and García has not helped it. He finally learned to take a walk in 2014, but he could not manage to be a productive hitter. From 2014-2016, he hit only .250/.308/.380, good for only an 89 wRC+. You basically need to be Jason Heyward in the field for that level of offense to fly from a right fielder, and García was far from that.

García finally broke through in 2017, hitting .330/.380/.506. That’s a 137 wRC+! A career replacement level player suddenly had a 4.6 WAR season. However, there were red flags. His plate discipline had declined, and he had a .392 BABIP. His offense fell back down to below average levels in 2018 while playing in only 93 games due to injury, so the White Sox decided to non-tender him. He recently signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Rays.

Villarreal’s major league career lasted only one more batter. He walked that batter in four pitches. He retired from baseball after the 2014 minor league season.

Montas did not make his major league debut until 2015, and even then he pitched just 15 innings that year. The following year he landed with the Dodgers as part of the Todd Frazier trade, but never pitched for them due to a rib injury. He then landed in Oakland in the trade that sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to Los Angeles. They actually tried converting him back to a starter, and it has not worked out too badly. He had a 4.71 RA9 over 65 IP, but his strikeout rates were quite poor.

Wendelken took longer to debut, not doing so until 2016 as a member of the A’s. He pitched 12 23 disastrous innings, and then sadly missed 2017 due to Tommy John surgery. He pitched only 16 23 innings last year and gave up just one run.

Rondón is still toiling away in the minors, most recently with the Braves double-A team. He is a slick fielding middle infielder, but he just cannot hit for the life of him, which is why he has yet to make the majors. Over 2,639 PA in the minors and he has hit a measly .206/.281/.267. He was cut by the Mississippi Brave in late May of last year, and has not appeared elsewhere since.

Red Sox Results

Remaining Control WAR Salary (M)
Remaining Control WAR Salary (M)
Jake Peavy 1 0.6 $16.9
Brayan Villarreal 5 0 < $0.1
Total 6 0.6 $16.9
Baseball Reference, Spotrac

I have not been shy in the past about expressing my disdain for the $/WAR system, but I include it in this series because it is not completely worthless as a way to show how much productivity a team received for what they paid. For the Red Sox here, it is pretty much worthless. One of the richest teams in baseball got what they needed in terms of rotation help, and then won the World Series. The fact that they paid nearly $17 million for less than 1 WAR is meaningless.

Tigers Results

Remaining Control WAR Salary (M)
Remaining Control WAR Salary (M)
José Iglesias 4 7.1 $16.1
Baseball Reference, Spotrac

I think the Tigers got what was expected out of Iglesias, and it is actually good production for what they paid. It is certainly better than what they would have gotten from García.

White Sox

Remaining Control WAR Salary (M)
Remaining Control WAR Salary (M)
Avisail García 6 5.3 $13.0
Frankie Montas 6 0 $0.1
J.B. Wendelken 6 0 $0.0
Cleuluis Rondón 6 0 $0.0
Total 24 5.3 $13.1
Baseball Reference, Spotrac

This hurts for the White Sox. They really needed García to be a GUY, but he was just a guy. Even though he was acquired for a pitcher they did not need anymore, a lack of production from a trade just ends up delaying a team’s rebuild.

The Tigers actually got the best results from this trade based purely on WAR, but of course, it was the Red Sox who won the 2013 World Series. Sure, Peavy was not a major contributor to that, but he was what the Red Sox needed him to be. As for the White Sox, well, hopefully things will come together for them soon.

. . .

Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.