Nobody in his or her right mind expected the Chicago White Sox to pick up the gigantic option on right-hander Jake Peavy for 2013. But getting him to agree to a contract extension before he was to hit free agency this offseason might be just as big of a surprise.
Then again, going by Peavy's own words, maybe it shouldn't be.
Peavy and the team announced an agreement Tuesday that keeps him with the White Sox for at least the next two seasons for $29 million. The contract includes a vesting option that will pay $15 million in 2015 if Peavy reaches specific innings thresholds in '13 and '14. It's a lot of money for a guy who made an average of 17 starts from 2009-2011, but also in 2012 rebounded to throw 219 innings and pitch at an All-Star level for a playoff contender.
Major League Baseball also announced its Gold Glove winners for 2012, and Peavy will share one with Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays. It's Peavy's first. The White Sox also announced they've picked up the option for Gavin Floyd. They declined options on Kevin Youkilis and Brett Myers and continue to negotiate with catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who will test free agency.
Peavy was to hit free agency Friday after the White Sox declined to pick up his whopping $22 million option for 2013. Instead, they'll spread the $4 million buyout from 2016-2019.
"I didn't want to play any games about my desire to stay in Chicago," Peavy said during a Tuesday night conference call to announce his new contract. "I was open and up front and hoping it would work out. This is a great day for me and my family, and I hope for the White Sox as well."
Peavy endeared himself to the White Sox in coming back from surgery in 2010 that repaired a detached latissimus dorsi muscle near his right shoulder. But he finished '10 and '11 with below-average numbers while being the highest-paid member of team. And White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been loath to give big contract extensions to pitchers. Peavy's people must know all this. So, why didn't both sides wait for free agency?
From the Chicago Tribune:
The Peavy move was stunning, considering that his new agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, expressed a desire to have his client test the free agent market for the first time.
But Hahn made his first offer Oct. 8, and negotiations accelerated in the 72 hours before the deal was made.
Peavy usually comes across as meaning what he says, and had said that free agency was only a last resort. He wanted to stay with the White Sox, and there's always something to be said for that. There's also something to be said for the White Sox looking at the free-agent market. And keeping Peavy and Floyd probably prohibits the Sox from going after any high-end starting pitching — such as Zack Greinke or Anibal Sanchez.
Plus, with another pitcher in the White Sox rotation — left-hander John Danks — already a question mark for 2013 because of shoulder surgery, they're starting out with two-fifths of a rotation that has an injury history. And that doesn't count Floyd, who experienced some elbow problems in 2012. All told, it's a big commitment for newly promoted Sox GM Rick Hahn. And risky.
Scott Merkin at MLB.com writes:
Moving money around in the deal and allowing the White Sox to get creative with the contractual structure helped Peavy reach an agreement. It also showed the level of importance placed by Peavy in returning to the White Sox.
"Without his strong desire to come back, this doesn't get done," Hahn said.
"It wasn't about going to free agency," Peavy said. "I was not interested in free agency unless I had to be."
The White Sox saw to that.