By the time you read this, the Red Sox will have faced the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS. Obviously, I can’t speak to what happened in that game, because I lack the requisite level of psychic power to do so, but it will have definitely happened. I’m almost certain of that much.
The Tigers spent much of the season looking like the best team in baseball, while the Red Sox held on to a (sometimes tenuous) AL East lead before a late surge led them to the best record in the MLB, tied with the Cardinals. This is an interesting matchup based just on talent alone, but it’s made even more intriguing by how these two teams helped each other to the position they’re at now.
Prior to the trade deadline, the Red Sox partook in a three-team trade with the Tigers and the Chicago White Sox that sent starter Jake Peavy to Boston. At the time, the move filled an immediate need in the starting rotation for the Red Sox at relatively low cost.
But how does it stack up now? That’s what we’re here to find out. Let’s take a look at the trade now, from the perspectives of each of the involved teams.
Chicago White Sox
This will be the slowest-developing aspect of this trade. The White Sox are in a full rebuilding mode, and moved Peavy for a haul of prospects with no intentions of receiving major contributions from any of them this season. With that in mind, it’s difficult to project just how much the trade helped them at this point in time.
That said, they did receive a major piece in the form of Avisail Garcia, then the number two prospect in the Tigers farm system. Garcia split time between the majors and AAA this season, and while he struggled for the Tigers, he posted a promising .304/.327/.447 line with the White Sox. The success of this trade for Chicago is going to rest primarily on Garcia’s shoulders.
The three prospects from Boston are all A-ball players, and are a long way from becoming impact players, if they ever do. To me, the most interesting thing about those three is that their names are fantastic.
Sent Avisail Garcia to the White Sox and Brayan Villareal to the Red Sox, received Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox.
While Garcia was a steep price to pay, Jose Iglesias was a major addition to the Tigers for a variety of reasons. At the time of the trade, Jhonny Peralta was preparing to serve a 50-game suspension for his part in the Biogenesis probe, and Iglesias filled the gap he left at shortstop.
Furthermore, Iglesias adds a quality glove to a Tigers infield that left a lot to be desired defensively. Iglesias is an infinitely better defensive shortstop than Peralta, and his presence helps negate Miguel Cabrera’s defensive deficiencies at third base to an extent.
The bad news for the Tigers is that Jose still can’t hit; his numbers in Detroit (.259/.306/.348) more accurately reflect his overall offensive ability than his BABIP-inflated ones in Boston (.330/.376/.409). The good news is he doesn’t have to; the Tigers’ offense is certainly not lacking in run production (although the series stats against Oakland may beg to differ), and it takes the pressure off Iglesias to produce offensively.
While Iglesias looks to be a positive addition for the Tigers this season, the organization is clearly hoping for continued development from him going forward. They traded the second-best prospect in their system to obtain him, and how his career stacks up against Garcia’s will go a long way toward evaluating the long-term success of this deal.
Boston Red Sox
Not that it was ever really in doubt, but this trade remains, to me, a sweeping success for the Red Sox both in terms of the immediate benefits and the long-term ones.
For starters (pun definitely intended), the Red Sox filled a hole in the starting rotation that had persisted since Clay Buchholz’s injury. With Buchholz now healthy, the Red Sox are rolling with an impressive four-man playoff rotation of Lester, Lackey, Buchholz, and
Peavy, and, with Peavy under contract for next season as well, look to have impressive depth in the rotation for next season, as well.
We know all this. The long-term benefits of the deal go a bit beyond strictly Peavy himself, however. Firstly, this trade was an absolute bargain compared to the Mike Olt-headlined package Theo Epstein received for Matt Garza. For comparison’s sake, a deal of that magnitude for the Red Sox would likely have included Will Middlebrooks or Jackie Bradley Jr. The fact that they landed a comparable pitcher to Garza for a fraction of the cost is remarkable.
Beyond that, the trade also helped somewhat resolve the organizational logjam at shortstop for the Red Sox. Jose Iglesias didn’t really have a future with this team, and his presence playing either short or third took playing time away from Stephen Drew or Will Middlebrooks, respectively. Drew has quietly been extremely effective for the Red Sox this season, and Middlebrooks has swung a hot bat since his return from the minors; there’s no way to justify giving Iglesias at-bats at the expense of either of those two.
The trade also leaves shortstop free for Xander Bogaerts, who will be the actual long-term answer at the position for the organization. I’m incredibly excited for the Xander Bogaerts Era, and it can begin all that much sooner with Iglesias now out of the picture.
At this time, it’s impossible to pick a “winner” in this deal. It’s served each team well in different ways – the White Sox got their blue-chip prospect, the Tigers got their defensive wizard at short, and the Red Sox got their starter. In terms of fWAR, Peavy has provided 1.3 for the Sox while Iglesias has added 0.8 for the Tigers, which is a negligible enough difference over such a small sample size that it’s difficult to divine any advantage.
My immediate feeling is to call this trade a “win-win” for all three teams involved, but it’s going to be a few years before any definitive conclusions can be drawn from it. For the time being, all that’s left is to see how it plays out on the field, as the two teams who helped each other the most in the present are now matched up against each other for all the marbles.