The Red Sox Tuesday night made a bold move to improve their rotation by acquiring righthander Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox in a three-team, seven-player trade.
The price was steep: defensive wizard Jose Iglesias was traded to the Detroit Tigers along with three lower-level prospects. The Sox also obtained Triple A righthander Brayan Villarreal from Detroit.
The Sox sent righthanders J.B. Wendelken and Francelis Montas and infielder Cleuluis Rondon to the White Sox. Chicago also obtained outfielder Avisail Garcia from Detroit.
Pending a review of medical records, the deal should be completed Wednesday ahead of the 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.
In Peavy, the Red Sox get a pitcher who will slot into a rotation still waiting for the return of Clay Buchholz from the disabled list. The 32-year-old is 8-4 with a 4.28 earned run average in 13 starts and was one of the best starters available on the trade market.
“We’re really excited to bring Jake here. He’s obviously a proven major league starter. He’s had a ton of success in his career,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “If there was one thing we could do, if we could pull it off, it’s add a starting pitcher.”
Peavy is a three-time All-Star and won the Cy Young Award with San Diego in 2007. He is 36-29 with a 4.00 ERA in parts of five seasons with the White Sox.
In 45 starts since the beginning of 2012, Peavy has won 19 games and has a 3.61 ERA.
“We’re in a position to compete for a playoff spot and we felt like adding a starting pitcher was one of the most important things we could do,” Cherington said.
“This was the deal we thought made the most sense. We just thought that Peavy, of the starting pitchers available, was the one that made the most sense to us.”
Peavy has $5.19 million remaining on his contract for this season and is signed for $14.5 million in 2014. That he was not a rental for two months appealed to the Red Sox.
“That was important,” Cherington said. “If we were going to give up a long-term asset in Iglesias that we were getting someone we would control past this year was important.”
Peavy has a $15 million vesting player option in 2015 based on innings pitched. Peavy would need to pitch 400 innings from 2013-14, including 190 in 2014, for the option to kick in. Because he has thrown only 80 innings this season, that is unlikely.
Adding veteran depth to the rotation became a priority once Buchholz went on the disabled list in early June and experienced a series of setbacks related to a shoulder injury.
The Red Sox expect Buchholz to return this season, but not until late August or early September. By adding Peavy, the rotation is strengthened for the pennant race and gives manager John Farrell excellent choices if the Sox make the postseason.
The White Sox pulled Peavy from his scheduled start in Cleveland on Tuesday. That would make him available to start for the Red Sox as soon as Thursday. He is expected to arrive in Boston on Wednesday.
The Sox had been negotiating with White Sox for several days, but could not find a match. That changed when the Tigers became involved in the conversation and the trade was made just as Tuesday’s victory over Seattle was ending.
Iglesias was taken out of the game before the ninth inning and left the clubhouse before reporters were allowed in.
Peavy has started two games since coming off the disabled list July 20 after missing six weeks with a non-displaced rib fracture. He has allowed six earned runs on 11 hits over 13 innings and struck out 10.
Cherington said the Red Sox are comfortable with Peavy’s physical condition.
Adding to that comfort was the familiarity pitching coach Juan Nieves has with Peavy. Nieves is the former bullpen coach of the White Sox and spent four seasons with Peavy.
The Red Sox will call up an infielder from Triple A Pawtucket to replace Iglesias on the roster. That could be Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt, or 20-year-old Xander Bogaerts, the organization’s top prospect.
In Iglesias, the Red Sox are giving up the best defensive infielder in their organization. The 23-year-old shortstop became a regular at third base this season after the Red Sox demoted Middlebrooks and he handled the position with aplomb.
Iglesias, overmatched as a hitter in the minors and in brief stints during the 2011 and ’12 seasons, was a surprise at the plate. He hit .330 with 10 doubles in 63 games.
But Iglesias was 5 of his last 43 over 12 games with one run scored. His last extra-base hit was July 4. Of his 71 hits this season, 24 have been on the infield.
Shortstop is a deep position for the Red Sox, who are comfortable with Stephen Drew and have Bogaerts in Triple A. Deven Marrero, a Single A shortstop, was a first-round draft pick in 2012.
“We didn’t go into this July looking or expecting to trade Jose, but it was a relative area of strength to deal from,” Cherington said.
The offensively powerful Tigers can carry Iglesias in their lineup. Detroit has Jhonny Peralta at shortstop but may lose him because of a suspension related to the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs case.
Major League Baseball is close to announcing the suspensions.
Villarreal is on the disabled list in Triple A with a thumb injury that has healed and he will report to Pawtucket. He has 73 games of major league experience over three seasons, only seven this season.
Villarreal had a 2.63 ERA in 50 appearances last season. He struck out 66 over 54⅔ innings and allowed 38 hits.