The White Sox always wanted to retain Jake Peavy and it only made more sense as the market for free agent pitchers began to take shape. When Peavy showed a strong desire to return, a potential pact became more logical.
Compared with the extended, lucrative deals needed to land Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse this offseason, the two-year, 29 million contract Peavy signed on Tuesday afternoon, just days before he became a free agent, falls directly in line with what the White Sox wanted.
While the club paid a premium price for Peavys next two seasons -- hell make 14.5 million in each and could receive 15 million in 2015 -- they didnt have to overpay to bring in a quality pitcher.
Less than two years after he had potentially career-ending surgery, Peavy showed the White Sox he has plenty left in 2012. The right-hander was 11-12 with a 3.37 ERA in a team-high 219 innings over 32 starts last season and struck out 194 batters.
The length was absolutely key for us, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on a conference call on Tuesday night. Being able to insulate ourselves against having a long-term deal and the risk involved in any long-term deal, much less with a pitcher, being able to do something on a shorter-term basis had a greater appeal to us. You will see a fairly robust (pitchers market) this offseason -- deals beyond comfortable where we were interested in going. We made a deal and were able to do it on terms we found palatable.
The White Sox can thank Peavy and agent Jeff Barry for their willingness.
Even though Peavy likely would have received a bigger payday on the open market when he became a free agent on Friday, his desire was to return to the White Sox. Therefore, Peavy, who also won the first Rawlings Gold Glove of his career on Tuesday night, did what he could to ensure a return.
I never wanted any games, Peavy said. I was open and upfront about (returning). I certainly did all in my power to return to where Im the happiest.
Hahn and Peavy said contract talks started strong and then cooled off to the point Peavy was concerned he might not return to a club, which acquired him from the San Diego Padres for four pitchers on July 31, 2009.
But talks between the sides gained traction quickly over the last 72 hours, Hahn said.
Part of it was the concession Peavy made to allow the White Sox to pay the 4 million buyout on his 2013 club option from 2016-19. Another aspect is that Peavys 2015 player option kicks in only if he stays healthy and passes certain statistical thresholds, figures Hahn declined to reveal.
(Flexibility) played a huge roll, Hahn said. We got creative.
Peavy said he didnt want the White Sox to hurt their ability to acquire other quality players in order to ensure his return. The team also exercised its 9.5 million option on pitcher Gavin Floyd on Tuesday to bolster its 2013 rotation.
It has to fit for everybody, Peavy said. There has to be give and take from everybody, flexibility. We both gave a little bit on what we both wanted to do. You want to come back on a deal that doesnt hamstring the team.
The final piece to the puzzle is the timing, Hahn noted. Had Peavy gone on the open market, theres no telling what other teams would have offered. The Los Angeles Dodgers, for instance, have a big checkbook a might have opened it to attract the 2007 National League Cy Young winner. With free agency only 72 hours away, Hahn knew the White Sox had to make their move.
Our chances would likely take a serious hit once he got out there, Hahn said. We were aggressive, otherwise we wouldnt have got something done. He knew where he wanted to be and knew it was a fair deal and he was motivated to get something done.