I understand why Boston signed off on the deal: they wanted Jake Peavy. And I understand why Detroit signed off on the deal: shortstop Jhonny Peralta is likely facing a 50 game suspension coming out of the Biogenesis mess, and while in the long-term Jose Iglesias is not by any means the player who was hitting .400 and practically getting handed the American League Rookie of the Year Award earlier this year, his glove is amazing and would help shore up an infield startlingly devoid of actual infielders.
What I don’t understand is what actual benefit the Chicago White Sox derive from a package whose centerpiece — and only real prospect, honestly — is Avisail Garcia. Peavy’s under control for next season. If this is the best the White Sox could do this year and in this market, then unless you know that Peavy’s shoulder is falling off — like, your team doctor is literally examining his MRIs and making exploding bomb sound effects — or he’s privately told you he’s retiring after the season, why not hold on to him and try again next year? The alternative is apparently a package headlined by Avisail Garcia.
Garcia was the number two prospect in the Tigers system coming into the season per Baseball America, but the thing about the Tigers system at the start of the year is it only really had one good prospect: third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos. To put Garcia’s ranking in perspective, the No. 3 prospect in the Tigers system coming into the season on that list was Bruce Rondon, a relief pitcher with conditioning issues whose only pitch is a fastball he can’t locate. If not for the very same White Sox that just acquired Garcia, the Tigers would have the worst farm system in the Central and be competing for worst in the American League with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. So in that extremely limited sense, yes, the White Sox did get Detroit’s second-best preseason prospect, who immediately becomes one of the White Sox’ top prospects.
Garcia is young (22 years old), and young prospects are wishcasting boxes in ways that older ones aren’t for simple reasons of chronology. But the second sentence of Garcia’s scouting report reads in part that “Garcia is loaded with tools and could become an average hitter with above-average power.” All of his value as a prospect is based on his physical ability — or projected physical ability — and not on how he’s actually developed in the minor leagues. The rest of the scouting report is similarly backhanded: “overly aggressive at the plate and rarely walks,” “has the brute strength to get away with swinging at pitchers’ pitches,” “has a surprising athleticism considering his size.”
Does one bad scouting report mean Garcia can’t turn things around, find plate discipline, figure out pitch recognition and turn into an everyday player? Of course not. And Garcia has been fairly promising so far at AAA this year in under 200 PA. But he is a disappointing return considering he’s the only player of note coming back to the White Sox.
That’s because Boston got away with making their minor-league contribution to the deal two High-A pitchers, Francellis Montas and J.B. Wendelken, and a Cleuluis Rondon, a 19-year-old defense-first shortstop whose bat may not play in AA, let alone MLB. Rondon is a lottery ticket and Montas is barely a prospect; Wendelkin, a relief pitcher, functionally isn’t one. The Red Sox gave up essentially nothing in this deal except Iglesias who is himself a utility infielder and got Jake Peavy and a fringy bullpen arm (Brayan Villarreal) in return. Why? How did this happen? How was no one else willing to give up more talent for Peavy?
Well, they probably were. The problem wasn’t everybody else’s talent packages, it was their finances. Take a look how much money has been reported as exchanging hands in the deal. That’s right: none. The White Sox were willing to eat a bad return on talent so ownership could save on payroll for the next 18 months. Every organization has its priorities, and the White Sox have shown time and time again that the farm system is not one of theirs. In fairness to the White Sox, my guess would be that instead of pocketing the savings from the Peavy contract, they will be used to sign another ineffectual platoon infielder or one-dimensional outfielder in the vain hope that the team can reload instead of rebuild, but eventually something’s got to give in Chicago. Priorities like this aren’t how winning teams are built.