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The Perfect Deadline Deal

Jake PeavyI will write a trade deadline recap looking at all the deals. However, for me, one stands out way beyond the rest. Minutes after the deadline passed, a bombshell dropped across the newswires. Jake Peavy got traded to the White Sox for pitchers Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell, and Dexter Carter.

I don't even know where to start with this trade. It's as good as a deadline deal gets.

Jake Peavy is one of baseball's best pitchers when healthy. He has not been for months though. In fact, he is still on the DL. Chicago likes Peavy's chances to be back by the end of August. Jake is a former Cy Young award-winner, and relies on a wicked fastball-slider combo to overwhelm hitters. When healthy, he and Mark Buehrle will be a formidable 1-2 punch.

Clayton Richard is a 25-year-old southpaw in the midst of his first full season in the majors. He slid into the White Sox rotation in the middle of this year, and has been okay. His better days are ahead of him, and he will immediately look better in Petco's much more spacious confines. He looks like a third or fourth starter to me.

Aaron Poreda is the gem of the deal. He is only 22 years old, but has flown through Chicago's minor league system. A former first-round pick, he is a tall lefty with a powerful arm and good stuff. He has been effective in the White Sox bullpen in limited opportunities, but make no mistake, his future is as a starter. San Diego will send him to AAA for a little seasoning, which is a good idea. He should get a look in September though, and be in the rotation by 2010. He has as good of a chance to become a top-of-the-rotation starter as any prospect in baseball.

Adam Russell is a tall right-handed reliever (interestingly, all the pitchers the Padres got are abnormally tall). He is a bit older at 26 years of age, and got in 22 games for the White Sox last year out of the bullpen. Russell looks like an average reliever, but it's worth noting that he is inducing way more ground balls this year, and he is also moving to Petco. He could be a pleasant surprise in this deal, though he will not be a star.

Dexter Carter is the prospect by far the longest away from the majors. The 22-year-old from Old Dominion has plenty to like though. He has overpowered hitters since his pro debut around this time last year. Just this year, he has 143 strikeouts in 118 innings. Carter has been pitching in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League, and he is if anything a little old for the league. Still, the insane strikeout numbers speak to a powerful arm. It is too early to say how good Carter may be, but I will take my chances with an arm like that.

As a baseball fan, I love this trade. It's got everything you could ever want. A bona fide star player is involved. A top prospect is involved. Peavy turned down the White Sox earlier this year, but apparently has had a change of heart. Nobody saw the deal coming. It was stunning when it became public.

The deal is so risky for Chicago. Peavy may only get five or six starts before the end of the year. On top of that, the White Sox are not an elite team. They are in a winnable division, but they aren't that much better than the Mariners. Granted, Peavy is under contract for the next three years (and a fourth if the White Sox exercise a massive $22 million option), so Peavy is not a rent-a-player. Still, at least part of the motivation for making the deal now is to win now, and Peavy will be healthy for a month at best.

This is the boldest deal I've ever seen. It's no secret that White Sox GM Ken Williams loves Jake Peavy, and he also loves making bold deals. However, I never imagined something this bold or risky.

This was a no-brainer for the Padres. Even if they pick up all of Peavy's salary this year, it's a terrific deal for them. They rid themselves of a hefty contract, and in the process get some premium talent back. Clayton Richard will be plugged into the rotation immediately, and it shouldn't take long for Poreda to join him. He and Latos have the potential to become a fantastic duo at the top of the rotation for years to come. San Diego still really needs some hitting, but their pitching is all of sudden young, cheap, and good.

This was not a no-brainer for the White Sox. Peavy is obviously the best player in this deal, and he should be great for several years once he is healthy. However, I am not as high on him as Ken Williams is. Peavy is a bit of a max effort guy, and his stuff strains his arm more than a guy like Mark Buehrle. Peavy also has quite a bit of mileage on his arm for as young as he is. I think Peavy will develop arm problems within the next few years, or if he doesn't, his velocity will sink a little, and the slider will flatten out a little.

On top of my concerns over Peavy, I am very high on Aaron Poreda. It would not surprise me if he is a better pitcher than Jake within the next few years. He will certainly be better for the price - $15-17 million versus $400-500K - but he may just be flat-out better if Peavy fades some as I think he may. Add in the rest of the talent in the deal, and the financial aspect, and that's why it is such a no-brainer for San Diego.

As a final note, I wonder what kind of discussions Ken Williams had with J.P. Ricciardi about Roy Halladay. Williams said he made a push for Roy, and was disappointed with the response. Granted, Halladay is not under contract for as long as Peavy, and he is a few years older. I also have a hunch that Williams simply like Peavy better. However, you would have to think the Blue Jays got a comparable offer for Halladay to what the Padres just accepted for Peavy.

If Chicago wouldn't part with Poreda for Halladay, I would understand. However, for the sake of argument, let's say they offered Poreda, Clayton Richard, and Josh Fields. That seems plausible. I like that package better than the rumored Phillies deals. I prefer Poreda to Kyle Drabek, and Richard is comparable to J.A. Happ at worst. Fields is a young third baseman with power potential. I don't like him as much as Dominic Brown, but he is closer to the majors and plays a more premium position. Plus, as I said earlier, I prefer Poreda to Drabek, so Fields does not have to be better than Brown to make the deal worth it.

Was Ricciardi really that stuck on getting four players? Granted, I'm speculating a ton here with my proposed trade. However, looking at the Peavy deal, and knowing that the White Sox went after Halladay, I question how Toronto and Chicago did not come to an agreement. More specifically, I question Ricciardi. It's only excusable if the White Sox would not include Poreda. Otherwise, Ricciardi blew it.

In the end, I'm glad the White Sox did not get Roy Halladay. This Jake Peavy deal is everything a baseball fan could ask for. It came out of nowhere. It's bold and risky. It has star power. It happened right up against the deadline. It's dramatic no matter what angle you look at it from. This is what the trade deadline is all about.