The Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers made moves to improve their playoff chances while the Chicago White Sox stockpiled assets from both clubs.
The Red Sox Get: RHP Jake Peavy and RHP Brayan Villareal.
Peavy, 32, is an upgrade for the Red Sox rotation, particularly in the absence of Clay Buchholz, who has been their best starting pitcher this season. However, Peavy has hardly been overpowering this season.
He's 8-4 for a losing White Sox team, but his 4.28 ERA is the result of a career-high home run rate (14 in 80 IP). In his last half dozen starts, Peavy has surrendered seven home runs and has allowed four or more earned runs in four of those six starts, posting a 6.03 ERA. According to Fan Graphs, Peavy is allowing fly balls on a career-high 47.1% of balls in play.
On a positive note, Peavy has 76 strikeouts and only 17 walks this season, his 4.47 strikeout-to-walk ratio the best of his career as he's throwing a career-high percentage (21.1%) of cutters and a career-low percentage (5.1%) of sliders.
Peavy's overall value this season has been compromised by injury, as he spent six weeks on the disabled list with broken ribs, so he currently ranks 86th among starting pitchers in the TSN.ca Player Rankings. Over the next season-plus, Peavy could be worth as much as five to six wins above replacement for the Red Sox, though a cumulative WAR of three or so might be a reasonable expectation.
Peavy's arrival likely means that prospect Brandon Workman, who has a 3.54 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings through four appearances after winning Tuesday's start against Seattle, will be bumped from the Boston rotation down the stretch.
In his entire career, Peavy has pitched one game at Fenway Park May 30, 2011).
Peavy's contract pays him $14.5-million for this season and next. There is a $15-million player option for 2015, but Peavy won't meet the innings pitched requirement to be eligible for that option.
Villareal is a 26-year-old reliever with a power arm who was effective (2.63 ERA in 54 2/3 IP) in 2012, but has spent most of this year at Triple-A, trying to work on command issues. He has a 3.15 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings for Toledo, but also an alarming 26 walks. Villareal also had eight walks and a 20.77 ERA in 4 1/3 innings with the Tigers, so he's going to have to start finding the plate more regularly if he's going to have major league value, but his fastball dials up into the mid-to-high-90s, so he could be effective if he can establish some control.
The Tigers Get: SS Jose Iglesias.
Iglesias, a 23-year-old slick fielder who has given the Red Sox relief at both shortstop and third base this season, provides Detroit with insurance in the likely event that shortstop Jhonny Peralta accepts a 50-game suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis lab in Miami.
All along, Iglesias has been highly-regarded for his defensive play, but has been a liability at the plate, hitting .257 with a .622 OPS in four minor-league seasons, including a .581 OPS in 33 games at Triple-A this season. But, in 63 games with the Red Sox, Iglesias has hit .330 with a .787 OPS, with an unsustainably-high .377 batting average on balls in play (worth noting that Peralta has a .381 BABIP), and Iglesias has already started regressing (hitting .205 with a .467 OPS in July) after his outrageously hot start.
Iglesias' average was an astronomical .451 through his first 60 games and has steadily declined since, not unlike someone who won a few big pots early at the poker table and is now watching his stack of chips steadily, but inevitably, shrink away.
As long as the Tigers aren't expecting offensive production from Iglesias, he should be a long-term fixture in the middle of the Detroit infield for years to come and, with less than a year of major league service time, is under team control financially making him an inexpensive starter if he is going to be Peralta's successor.
The White Sox Get: RF Avisail Garcia, SS Cleuluis Rondon, RHP Francellis Montas, RHP Jeffrey Wendelken.
Garcia, 22, is a power-packed outfielder who made the jump from A-ball to Triple-A to the majors this season, posting six homers, 27 RBI, .387 batting average and .999 OPS in 38 minor league games.
His challenge, to this point in his career, has been plate discipline. He struck out 33 times, compared to 11 walks, in the minors this season and that 3:1 ratio is a decided improvement on previous seasons when his strikeout-to-walk ratio was five or six to one.
That lack of plate discipline, however, poses problems in the major leagues, where Garcia simply swings at too many pitches. The result, through 53 games last year and this year is a .269 batting average and .663 OPS (with 31 strikeouts and seven walks). With his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame, Garcia should be a power hitter, but it's going to take some time and further development before he's doing it with any consistency in the majors.
There has been talk of the White Sox trading veteran RF Alex Rios, which would certainly open up regular playing time for Garcia and while it could be too soon to yield favourable results, those reps at the plate could also help Garcia improve his batting eye.
Rondon is a 19-year-old shortstop from the Red Sox system who is still in low-A ball. He's not hitting enough at that level (.681 OPS in 36 games this season) to expect him to be a major leaguer, but he's a terrific defender, still very young and four or five years from now, when he fills out physically, maybe he could fill a utility role.
A power-armed RHP, Montas is 20-years-old and struggling some (2-9, 5.70 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) at Single-A Greenville, but also has an overpowering fastball that has helped him accrue 96 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings, so there is enough upside to consider. Even if he doesn't develop the repertoire to remain a starter as he climbs the ladder, Montas has the mid-90s velocity to believe that he could fill a relief role.
Also in Greenville, 21-year-old Wendelken has been strictly a reliever since he was picked in the 13th round in 2012. In 85 1/3 career IP, he has a 2.43 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 82 strikeouts. He may not be as overpowering as Montas, but also holds the potential to fill a bullpen role in the majors.
In the midst of a disappointing season, it's no surprise to see the White Sox trying to re-stock the system and they've done all right here. If Garcia simply turns into a major league regular right fielder, then he'll offer more long-term value than Peavy. It will take some time and additional development for that value to be realized.