The Padres have held discussions with free-agent righty Jake Peavy about a possible reunion, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Peavy, 35, last played with San Diego in 2009, when he was shipped to the White Sox in a mid-season deal that landed fellow hurler Clayton Richard — whose own return to the Pads was just extended with a one-year deal.
Peavy established himself as a dominant starter with San Diego, the organization that drafted him in the 15th round of the 1999 draft. He was a key part of the team’s last two postseason entrants (in 2005 and 2006) and won the Cy Young award with the club back in 2007.
Since that time, Peavy has gone from the White Sox to the Red Sox (by way of trade) and then on to the Giants (via trade and a subsequent free-agent contract). While he has never again been quite a dominant as he was with the Friars for a full season, Peavy has continued to provide solid innings for the vast bulk of a 15-year career.
Last year didn’t go quite as hoped, however, as Peavy managed only 118 2/3 innings of 5.54 ERA ball with San Francisco. A demotion to the pen and back issues marred his final season with the Giants, but Peavy still managed 7.7 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. He coughed up a .320 BABIP that sat well above his career .285 mark (though that’s partially attributable to a career-worst 37.1% hard-contact rate), and also posted a low strand rate of 65.4%, so there’s some cause to see poor fortune as a driver of the results. Indeed, metrics such as FIP (4.36), xFIP (4.70), and SIERA (4.41) all suggested that Peavy performed about as well as he had in prior recent years.
While a return to his 3.58 ERA from the 2015 season may be hoping for too much, then, there’s still reason to believe that Peavy can be a useful back-of-the-rotation arm. Though he sat at a personal low of 88.9 mph with his average fastball, Peavy’s swinging-strike rate rebounded to double digits (10.5%) for the first time since 2009. And as Lin notes, Peavy still generates excellent spin rates compared to the rest of the league.
San Diego’s interest would be on a one-year arrangement, Lin suggests, which would meet with expectations heading into the winter. It’s not clear how much longer Peavy will continue to ply his trade, and certainly there are enough red flags to make a lengthier commitment suspect from any team’s perspective.