On Tuesday, the Chicago White Sox declined the $22 million option for Jake Peavy‘s 2013 season, then signed him to a two year deal worth $29 million with an option year for 2015.
That’s relevant to the Royals in two ways. First, it takes another potential starter off the market, but more directly, it’s a deal could set the market for other starters, specifically Jeremy Guthrie. The righty is likely to test the free agent market, though the Royals have exclusive negotiating rights with him until Saturday. Guthrie will be 34 next April, which is just old enough to be scary, but not old enough to be expecting a collapse. As he showed in his half season with the Royals, Guthrie isn’t the same guy they saw in Colorado and reestablished value.
He doesn’t have the track record of Peavy, who was a two time All-Star and the National League’s Cy Young winner in 2007, but Guthrie has been a slightly better than average starter through his career who can put in a lot of innings.
In other words, he’ll cash in.
So if Peavy gets two years and an option, that sounds like a good kind of baseline for Guthrie’s deal. The Royals need pitchers for 2013, but they don’t seem to want to dig deep to keep older pitchers over long-term deals. Over two years, the Royals could take advantage of Guthrie’s skills, but he wouldn’t be blocking anyone by 2015 (assuming the hypothetical option year wasn’t exercised), and by that time, the Royals could have Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Zimmer, Yordano Ventura and John Lamb ready as well as Danny Duffy and/or Felipe Paulino.
Guthrie has a 103 ERA+ for his career and 106 in the American League. Peavy, who is younger with more upside, has a 110 ERA+ in the AL. As for the dollars, Guthrie won’t get the $29 million Peavy will be getting, but Peavy’s deal seems to put two years and $22 million at the starting point in my mind. More than that wouldn’t surprise me either, but it’s not likely he’ll beat Peavy’s deal, so there’s a limit in place as well. That allows for some projectivity, which is good for the Royals who are looking to keep payroll under control and can’t afford a bidding war.
It’s up to Guthrie. He likely wants to try to cash in his last big contract, but if those offers aren’t out there, he may turn back to the Royals and spend a couple more years in Kansas City.