Should The Angels Pursue Jake Peavy?
Veteran right-hander, Jake Peavy, has had the good fortune of winning back-to back World Series Titles in 2013 and ’14. Peavy is a pitcher stuck in the middle tier of free agency. He will not command the same contract as Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, or James Shields, and thus is someone for the Angels to consider.
Peavy has flown under the radar so far in free agency, as he has not been connected to any teams yet. The only recent headline this Alabama native has appeared in was when he announced his plan to purchase a San Francisco cable car and transform it into a mobile bar. It has been widely speculated that this budding entrepreneur will return to Frisco in 2015. But, could Jake Peavy be the missing piece in the Angels starting rotation?
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Jake Peavy possesses one of the best resumes in all of baseball. The 12-year vet has made three All-Star teams, won 129 games, made 9 postseason starts, won one Cy Young Award, and lifted the World Series Trophy twice. One would hope his wealth of experience would rub off on the younger guys if the Angels brass elects to bring Peavy on board.
Peavy has had quality numbers throughout his career, and although his numbers have dropped off slightly over the last couple seasons, the results have remained positive. Peavy had a horrible start to his 2014 campaign in Boston, going 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA. His fortunes improved greatly after being dealt to the San Francisco Giants at the end of July, going 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA down the stretch. He averaged 7 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2014, while averaging just 2.8 walks per 9 innings. He has never registered a negative WAR in his career, and last season he posted a respectable 2.0 wins above replacement.
It is easy to see that Peavy pitches with an attitude, as he is regularly heard yelling at himself in between pitches. Peavy is a bulldog on the mound, and he will never give up on himself or his teammates. Durability has not been an issue for the 33-year-old over the past three seasons, never hurling fewer than 144.1 innings, and cracking the 200-inning mark twice over that stretch. The intensity with which Peavy pitches could add a dimension not seen on the Angels in recent seasons.
There is no denying Peavy has experience in the playoffs, unfortunately, it is all negative experience. Over Peavy’s 9 career postseason starts he is 1-5, with a 7.98 ERA. In three World Series starts, Peavy is 0-2, posting an ERA of 9.58. The Giants and Red Sox won in spite of Peavy’s October performances the last two seasons. Peavy has never made it out of the 6th inning in a postseason start.
As with any aging player, Peavy is regressing in nearly every major statistical category. His strikeout per 9 innings rate was way down in 2014, a whole 1.5 lower than his career average. His strikeout per walk ratio was 2.51; down from the 3.13 he has averaged over his career. His 4.11 FIP was well above his career average of 3.60. Jake’s numbers while pitching in the American League leave plenty to be desired, going 41-39, with a 4.26 ERA.
Durability problems may not have plagued Peavy over the past three seasons, but the three seasons prior were a completely different story. From the 2009 season through the 2011 season, Peavy made just 51 starts, never pitching more than 111.2 innings in any season. It is fair to wonder if the problems he has had staying healthy will reappear and intensify as he ages.
Most experts are suggesting a two-year deal for Peavy, worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million. The Halos are in a tough spot financially, currently within $10 million of the luxury tax threshold. Many veterans are open to taking a slight pay cut in exchange for more security. If the Angels were to offer a three-year deal worth $25 million they might have a shot at landing Peavy. If the Angels rearranged their payroll by non-tending someone like, Gordon Beckham, then they could potentially afford his $10 million dollar per year asking price.
The Angels’ rotation is looking pretty solid right now. Ace, Jered Weaver, is coming back in 2015, as is veteran southpaw, C.J. Wilson. Matt Shoemaker finished second in Rookie of the Year voting after winning 16 games last season. Mike DiGiovanna reported that, Garrett Richards, is recovering nicely from knee surgery. Richards is reportedly on track to return in time for the start of spring training. This would make for a pretty formidable top four starters in the Halos rotation, leaving only the final spot to be decided in Tempe next March.
Peavy has performed well over the past three seasons, and the two plus months he spent in Frisco only help his cause. The postseason numbers are pretty damning however, and they may drive his salary down. Peavy is 33-years-old right now, which is not ancient for a pitcher, but definitely worth noting. Peavy is no longer the powerful strikeout pitcher he once was, but he compensates by using his brain to retire hitters. With names like Lester, Shields, and Scherzer still available, the market for Peavy has been pretty dry.
Unless the Angels are desperately seeking a pitcher with a bulldog mentality, they should look elsewhere to fill out the final spot in the rotation. Peavy simply is not the pitcher he once was, and is not worth the money it would take to lure him to Anaheim. I think the Halos could do with adding another veteran arm to compete in spring training, but at this point, I do not believe Peavy is the right fit.