Where Art Thou Dexter Carter?

I get some pretty interesting email. Some are thoughtful questions, some are so poorly written that I have trouble reading them. Some, honestly, I couldn’t print if I wanted to. Let’s just say they would make George Carlin blush.

Anyway, I got an email last week from a reader who asked me to re-evaluate the Jake Peavy deal as this point, two and half years after Padres GM Kevin Towers made that trading-deadline deal with the White Sox on July 31, 2009.

Given that pitchers and catchers report to Peoria on Sunday — and that only pitcher Clayton Richard remains from the deal —  this seemed a good time to revisit the deal.

First, a very, very brief background.

The Padres had been trying to deal Peavy in 2009 and he had previously shot down a deal to the White Sox before July 31. Remember, Peavy had a no-trade clause, something that Towers, later on, lamented giving him (in fact, it’s safe to say Towers won’t include a no-trade clause in future deals). The Padres were struggling and the three-year, $52 million contract that the team gave Peavy only months after winning the NL Cy Young in 2007 (with an option for 2013) was going to be a difficult contract to carry moving forward.

So the Padres (but with Peavy’s blessing this time) dealt the right-hander to the White Sox for four players, all pitchers — Richard, Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell and Dexter Carter. Oh, and there was the not-so-small matter of moving Peavy’s remaining contract, which called for $16 million last season, $17 million in 2012 with a $22 million club option and $4 million buyout the White Sox will surely exercise.

Imagine that: Peavy will make $17 million this season. But this post isn’t about the merits of that deal. It’s about the long-term repercussions.

Peavy, as you’re likely aware, has had injury troubles with the White Sox and has appeared in only 39 games (38 starts) since the trade, going 17-13 with a 4.49 ERA. According to Baseball Reference, his WAR with the White Sox is 3.6. In case you’re wondering, it was 24.0 in eight seasons with the Padres — including 6.2 the season he won the Cy Young.

How have the Padres fared in the deal? Richard has a 2.6 WAR, though he missed the second half of last season. He has easily been the most productive player from the deal, going 24-20 with a 3.84 ERA. He made 33 starts and topped 200 innings in 2010 and probably would have done so again last season.

Adam Russell pitched 28 innings for the Padres from 2009-10 before being traded to the Rays as part of the Jason Bartlett deal. Poreda, who was a former first-round pick, never conquered his command issues and was designated for assignment by the team in June. He finished the season with Triple-A Tucson and was selected by the Pirates in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Finally, Carter struggled and was eventually released. Oddly enough, he has re-signed with the White Sox.

So there you have it.

I get asked often about how I think this trade turned out. If you go WAR vs. WAR, then, it’s the White Sox, though not by much. Poreda was a disappointment as was Carter. Russell had a 3.03 ERA with the Rays last season, though that kind of success doesn’t appear to be sustainable. Richard, of course, has been good at times with the Padres and at least in 2010 was an innings-eater.

Of course the Padres would have liked to have done better in this trade, though for my money (and theirs I’m sure) the trade was a success if for no other reason than the hefty contract they unloaded (the White Sox assumed something like the remaining $48 million). So again, can you imagine if Peavy was still on the books for $17 million this season? Even with a bump in payroll this season, there’s no way the Padres could have been so active in rebuilding this team with Peavy a part of it.

This all gets me to wondering: How will we eventually view another momentous trade in recent Padres history — the Adrian Gonzalez deal. I’m sure we’ll end up kicking that around at some point.

Corey Brock, MLB.com

Twitter: FollowThePadres

3 Comments

Why are baseball writers so sloppy when it comes to math? What’s wrong with being precise? You’re not as bad as Bill Center at this, but I wish you would try harder.

Despite how often I’ve read that Clayton Richard is all the Padres have left from trading Jake Peavy, Adam Russell was not released. The Padres have part of Jason Bartlett instead of Russell. As disappointing as 2011 was for Bartlett, he still produced a WAR of 1.8, for that one year alone. Even just looking at WAR, the White Sox have not come out ahead on this deal.

Sloppy? I’m talking about this trade at face value, the day it was done, the players involved. I do realize and mentioned that Russell was traded for Bartlett. Let’s suppose Bartlett gets traded, will I have to factor in the WAR of the player they got for him as well and forever tie that to the Peavy deal?

Yes. Is that really so hard?

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