Peavy happy to end up on South Side
Hurler eager to help White Sox after offseason uncertainty
NEW YORK -- There was Jake Peavy, in full uniform, joking with teammates on the field prior to Thursday's Cubs-White Sox makeup contest at Wrigley Field.
Of course, he was wearing a White Sox uniform, acquired by the South Siders for pitchers Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell and Dexter Carter at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. If you travel back nine months, though, the only start Peavy appeared in line to be making for a Chicago team was for the franchise on the North Side of town.
Peavy was in Las Vegas, in early December 2008, and he wasn't on The Strip to catch a Lance Burton magic show or indulge in the $19.99 buffet at the Bellagio.
That trip primarily was about business, as the Padres and the Cubs looked ready to make a deal involving the San Diego ace at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings. The Cubs were one of the approved teams for Peavy to waive his full no-trade clause, and while the news seemed to change every few hours, Peavy believed the Cubs stood as his next destination.
"We left Las Vegas thinking we pretty much had a deal in place," said Peavy in a recent interview with MLB.com. "I was hearing from my guys, 'Hey, I think we got things done.' We were pretty confident it was going to happen.
"At the end of the day, it was just not meant to be. I was excited it was going to happen. I was prepared it was going to happen. I don't think it's anybody's fault, not the Padres or the Cubs. But it takes its toll on you."
Dealing with the media frenzy surrounding the possible trade, and then only to have it fall through, left Peavy bound and determined not to let such an offseason play out again after the 2009 campaign. He didn't want such consternation for himself, his wife or his three sons.
If the possibility of a deal came up again during the 2009 regular season, and Peavy knew a Padres team in the process of rebuilding and cutting payroll would move him, he would go if the right fit existed. That possibility first came about on May 20, when White Sox general manager Ken Williams offered up the same four players eventually moved in return for Peavy.
At the time, Peavy didn't say, "Yes," but as Williams pointed out when the White Sox actually pulled off the deal less than one minute before the non-waiver Deadline, Peavy didn't say, "No." He said, "Not yet."
Speculation on Peavy's original turn down of the White Sox centered on his desire to stay in the National League, coupled with his desire to stay away from hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field as his home park. For the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner and a pitcher with a career 92-68 record and 3.29 ERA, nothing could be more off the mark.
"Sure, that stuff bothered me, because none of it was true," Peavy said. "It was just people speculating and assuming things as to why I turned down the trade. That was certainly the wrong assumption. I'm here today and I'm excited to pitch in the American League, and U.S. Cellular makes no difference to me.
"Everyone talks about the difference in the leagues, but you have to make pitches wherever you play. You want to be a winner, so think about it from that standpoint."
Ultimately, Peavy was ready to go to the Cubs because he was a little "more familiar with their personnel and the league they play in." He turned down the White Sox initially because his family called San Diego home and the Padres were in early contention.
Now, Peavy's only focus is to help the White Sox win -- hopefully, in the present, and over the next three years of his contract. Dealing with his right ankle injury, and now the aftereffects of getting hit on his pitching elbow in a Minor League rehab start on Aug. 24, actually has been tougher for Peavy then all of the hoopla surrounding his potential offseason trade.
"No matter where I play, I want to compete," Peavy said. "I love the city of Chicago. I had no problems going to play for the Cubs, and I have no problems going to play for the White Sox. I'm just excited all of that mess is over. I just didn't want to go through another winter experiencing those types of things, making those decisions."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.