The Boston Red Sox did the sensible thing Saturday.
The Red Sox traded pitcher Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for minor league pitchers Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. The deal marks Boston’s first significant move before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and it was a no-brainer for the Red Sox for several reasons.
Peavy has had a disappointing season. A lack of run support has played a huge role — Peavy is just 1-9 despite 12 quality starts — but the right-hander also has surrendered 20 home runs and suffered through several implosions. Peavy and the Red Sox simply couldn’t discover a winning formula, which, in and of itself, should have been enough for Boston to consider a trade.
A deal became inevitable, however, when the Red Sox started to invest more in their younger players for the remainder of the season — a philosophical change signified by Boston getting rid of veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski and turning to catching prospect Christian Vazquez. The Red Sox, who entered Saturday nine games under .500 (47-56) with 59 games remaining on the schedule, clearly would like to focus on players who figure to be with the organization beyond 2014. Peavy, a free agent-to-be, didn’t fit that mold.
The Red Sox have a host of young starting pitchers, including Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owens — a few of whom already have big league experience. With Boston bringing up the rear in the American League East, there was no sense in the Red Sox playing out the string with a self-made blockade. Trading Peavy creates an additional opening in the rotation, which the Red Sox can use to make a more accurate assessment on one or more of their up-and-coming hurlers. (Webster or Workman likely will join De La Rosa in the major league rotation, and Owens likely will be promoted from Double-A to Triple-A.)
While the Peavy trade obviously reflects a forward-looking approach, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Red Sox are in complete sell-mode, though that mindset might soon reign supreme. The Red Sox have major league-ready talent waiting in the wings, so Boston would have been doing itself a disservice if it didn’t cash in while Peavy was in demand.
Peavy expressed his love for Boston several times this season amid lingering trade rumors, but there was zero chance of the Red Sox re-signing the 33-year-old this offseason. It was time to move on, and the Giants’ package represents an impressive haul, as Escobar and Hembree both ranked among San Francisco’s top 10 prospects in Baseball America’s preseason rankings.
Escobar, 22, is 3-8 with a 5.11 ERA in 20 starts with Triple-A Fresno this season but entered the year ranked No. 2 in the Giants’ system and No. 56 across Major League Baseball, according to Baseball America. Hembree, 25, entered the season as San Francisco’s No. 7 prospect and owns a 3.89 ERA in 41 appearances with Fresno. The Red Sox should have no qualms about trading Peavy, especially with the organization landing two intriguing prospects in the process.
The writing was on the wall for a Peavy trade. He was a class act, a true professional and, by all accounts, a great teammate who would be an asset to any clubhouse culture. He also made valuable contributions to the Red Sox, particularly during last year’s World Series run.
But, as we all know, baseball is a business. Hanging onto Peavy for the rest of 2014 would have been bad business, no matter how you slice it.