When I first heard $29 million guaranteed over two years for Jake Peavy, my first reaction was that it was a fair deal for the White Sox, but not really a great one.
The last White Sox major pitcher re-signing that I endorsed as fair was John Danks' five-year extension. Danks made nine starts in an injury-plagued first season of that deal in 2012, going 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA, a 30-23 K-BB ratio and a 5.01 FIP. I don't think there's much question that if the Sox could take a mulligan on that one, they'd do it in a heartbeat.
That's why I'm not sure a straight 2-year, $29-million deal with Peavy would be adventageous for the White Sox. It's a big risk giving out big guaranteed money to the healthiest of pitchers. Peavy, who made 13, 3, 17 and 19 starts a season from 2008 to 2011, isn't the healthiest of pitchers. Based on his 2012, when he made 32 starts and pitched 219 innings with a 194-49 K-BB ratio, a 3.37 ERA and a 3.73 FIP, he's a bargain at that price. But Peavy's age (31) and injury history make committing to him a gamble (not necessarily an incorrect one, but a gamble nonetheless), even if it's just for two years.
What makes the contract a clear win for the White Sox is that it includes a vesting option for a third year. If Peavy pitches a certain number of innings in 2013 and 2014, the option kicks in. And if Peavy pitches a relatively high number of innings in the next two seasons, it's a great bet that he'll deliver more production, relative to market value, than he'll be paid ... and that he'd be worth re-signing at the price of $15 million for one year in 2015.
I've advocated for the White Sox to rebuild in the past, but they were good enough in 2012 — and have enough money committed to veteran players— that I'd do what I can to try and win what should be a winnable AL Central in 2013. Bringing back Peavy certainly increases their chances.