As MLB’s offseason continues to progress, some teams have already made very significant upgrades. The Boston Red Sox have added two big bats to their line up in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, while the Toronto Blue Jays signed top free agent catcher, Russell Martin, before dealing for Oakland Athletics All-Star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, yesterday. Outside of the American League East, things have been very quiet, especially in the National League. This is a big surprise considering the needs and amount of excess capital some of these NL teams have.
The Chicago Cubs made a huge splash when they sent manager, Rick Renteria, packing and hired former Tampa Bay Rays manager, Joe Maddon, to run their team. This move was both shocking and totally necessary at the same time, as Maddon is the type of baseball mind which would allow the team to take a giant leap forward. The other thing this move did was instill the belief that the team would be big spenders during the offseason, especially with the number of quality arms available through free agency and the trade market. Aspirations aside, the month of December is a couple days away and the North-siders have been quiet, but that does not mean there is nothing in the works.
Quality starting pitching is a target of the Cubs and they are willing to spend money to acquire it. They have already reached out to former Red Sox ace, Jon Lester, reportedly offering him a six-year deal exceeding the $140 millon mark. While landing a proven, winning arm like Lester would be a huge win for the team, they would still need to land one or two more arms to round out their rotation. One name that has been associated with the “Lester to the Cubs” talks over the past several weeks has been his former Boston teammate, Jake Peavy, who has a strong desire to return to the city of Chicago after playing for the team on the south side for parts of five seasons. While the thought of adding the two arms is intriguing, one cannot help but wonder, would Peavy’s return to Chicago be a good thing?
Jake Peavy has had a solid 13-year MLB career (139-111/2147.2 IP/3.53 ERA/2027 K/1.186 WHIP) and has earned the reputation of being one of the toughest competitors of his time. He is a three-time All-Star, won the NL Cy Young Award in 2007 as a member of the San Diego Padres, and has won World Series rings in consecutive seasons. He is very fond of the city of Chicago having pitched for the White Sox from 2009 to 2013 and has expressed a strong desire to return to the city which showed him so much love. While his time with the Sox yielded mixed results, an ERA of 4.00 was nearly half a run above his career average of 3.53, some are led to believe that returning to Chicago via its NL counterpart, the Cubs, could be a good match for all considered.
The 33 year old was one of the best pitchers in baseball during his eight years with the Padres and pitched very well for the San Francisco Giants in 2014 during their run to the postseason, so it appears as if he is more of an NL guy. He certainly still has plenty left in the tank, which would only play to the Cubs benefit, but at what cost? Peavy is no longer the guy who throws 94 MPH, but he still has as much, if not more fire, which is something the Cubs need in their clubhouse. Having a savvy veteran to motivate the young troops would be an important piece in helping them move forward as a team. Another thing he brings to the table is playoff experience, and although he has not been stellar (a 7.98 ERA over his four postseason appearances), he knows what it is like to pitch in important games.
If the Cubs can acquire him at below his market price as a three or four option in their rotation, this is a great move. Who he is and what he offers from an experience standpoint makes him an incredible fit. If not, they will find someone else, but it is believed that he is willing to listen to an offer from the team if Lester is landed. He sees everything that is going on with this Cubs team and is optimistic as to what they could be over the next couple of seasons. Why not take a shot?