ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli said he was “pretty upset” when he learned Saturday the Red Sox had traded righthander Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants for two well-regarded pitching prospects.
Part of the reason was Napoli regarded Peavy as a close friend, one of the best teammates he has ever had. But also because the trade signaled the last-place Red Sox are moving ahead with breaking up the roster that won the World Series only nine months ago.
“Jake is like family to me, a friend for life,” Napoli said. “But you get that this is a business and where we are now, you kind of expect these things. Now you wonder who will be next?”
Peavy was 1-9 with a 4.72 earned run average over 20 starts for the Red Sox this season but commanded what appears to be a solid return in 22-year-old lefthander Edwin Escobar and 25-year-old righthander Heath Hembree.
The Red Sox helped improve the trade on their end by including $3 million of the $5.28 million Peavy had remaining on his contract this season.
Escobar, 22, is 3-8 with a 5.11 ERA in 20 starts for Triple A Fresno and was selected for the Futures Game this month. The Venezuelan was ranked as the organization’s second-best prospect by Baseball America before the season.
Hembree, a reliever, appeared in nine games for the Giants last season, throwing 7⅔ shutout innings and striking out 12. He has a 3.89 ERA in 41 appearances for Fresno. Hembree was ranked among San Francisco’s top 10 prospects.
In comparison with other teams, the Giants do not have a particularly deep prospect pool, but scouts view Escobar and Hembree as major-league quality arms.
Obtaining better-than-expected talent for Peavy could embolden the Red Sox to make further moves before Thursday’s non-waiver deadline with an eye on next season. The Sox could take advantage of a seller’s market with their veteran talent.
“We’re listening. We’re gathering information as we have been for the last month or so. As we get closer to the deadline it starts to become more clear to what teams are the most motivated to add in different areas,” general manager Ben Cherington said.
Ace lefthander Jon Lester said Friday he would not be surprised if he were traded and would consider returning to the Red Sox via free agency.
Cherington would not comment directly on the idea of Lester being traded, but also didn’t discount the idea.
“We have to talk to teams, we have to listen to what teams are looking to do and figure out from those conversations what opportunities are out there,” he said.
“Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible toward April of 2015. That might mean doing very little; it might mean doing a bunch of stuff; it might be in-between. I don’t know yet.
“You know how we feel about Jon. We’re certainly happy that statement reflects how he feels about the relationship. We feel good about our relationship with him. Our position hasn’t changed, we’d love for Jon to be here in 2015.”
Other players are being more proactive. First baseman/outfielder Mike Carp told the Globe he asked the Red Sox for a trade last week because of a lack of playing time.
Carp hit .296 with an .885 OPS over 243 plate appearances last season, collecting 29 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs over 86 games. But he has played only 39 games this season. Since coming off the disabled list on July 7, Carp has 13 plate appearances.
“I lobbied as best I could,” Carp said. “It’s frustrating not to get opportunities. I just don’t know where I fit in and I expressed that. “
Carp does not have the necessary service time to demand a trade and said he was “respectful” in his request.
“Them bringing me here last year was huge for me. It was great,” he said. “But at the same time, I have to look out for myself. If there’s nothing here for me, maybe I can help somebody else.”
Said Cherington: “We understand that when things aren’t going as well as we’d like for the team, and/or any player is not in the role they would most like to be, there’s going to be frustration.
“I think there’s a way to deal with that, there’s a way to handle that in the right way. In this particular case that means keeping those conversations private. We’ll see how it goes.”
Peavy stopped by Tropicana Field to gather his equipment before flying to San Francisco, where he will start Sunday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Giants are fighting for first place with the Dodgers in the National League West and needed a rotation fill-in for the injured Matt Cain.
Peavy was 5-10 with a 4.48 ERA in 30 starts for the Red Sox after being obtained at the trade deadline a year ago as part of a three-team deal with the White Sox and Tigers. The Red Sox gave up shortstop Jose Iglesias and three lesser prospects in the deal.
Peavy pitched well down the stretch last season to help the Red Sox secure a postseason berth and he started three playoff games.
“I would certainly make the trade again. We won the World Series, and he was a part of it. I think it worked out well. Hopefully he feels that way,” Cherington said.
“I think he was a real key guy. We’re glad we traded for him and hopefully this gives him an opportunity to do the same.”
Manager John Farrell, who spoke in person to Peavy on Saturday, praised the pitcher for his contributions to the team on the field and in the clubhouse.
“Wished him well. He’ll miss Boston for sure. His time here, he felt was an extremely positive one and a memory to last forever,” Farrell said.
Clay Buchholz believes Peavy will help the Giants.
“Just a competitor,” he said. “Had to mold himself into a different pitcher than he was seven or eight years ago and found a way to do it to help the team.”
Peavy had been scheduled to pitch Sunday for the Red Sox against the Rays. Allen Webster was recalled from Triple A Pawtucket and will make that start.
Escobar and Hembree were optioned to Pawtucket. They join a deep group of pitching prospects in the organization that includes Webster, Matt Barnes, Rubby De La Rosa, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, and Brandon Workman.
That depth could lead to a bigger trade in the coming days or during the offseason.
“There’s a potential of that,” Farrell said. “What lays ahead remains to be seen.”
Cherington said nothing is imminent. But it’s clear the Red Sox are willing to deal.
“I never thought we’d go from the World Series to seeing guys traded the next season,” Napoli said. “It’s kind of a shock. You wake up and a teammate you love is gone.”