Sports

Hahn's poker game with Peavy

Jake Peavy is scheduled to start Tuesday, which means he is scheduled to be traded before that.

That’s the thinking. That’s the rumor. That’s why Peavy packed several extra bags and cleaned out his locker as the White Sox left for a road trip that starts in Cleveland.

But not so fast.

The top starting pitcher on the trade market who has attracted the attention of the A’s, Red Sox, Braves, Cardinals, Orioles and Dodgers now apparently has some teams backing away because Sox general manager Rick Hahn reportedly is refusing to pick up the $24 million or so remaining on Peavy’s deal that runs through next year.

In some places, Peavy was viewed as a smarter trade move than Matt Garza because Peavy is signed through next year. Now Hahn apparently is telling teams that if you want that advantage, then you can pay for it yourself.

Compare that with the Cubs, who eat the salary of every big-name player they trade as if it has the hidden nutritional benefits of buffalo meat. Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano alone have cost Tom Ricketts about $36 million combined. That’s some lovely parting gift.

But there’s more to Hahn’s apparent stance than just acting like a small market team when it comes to money. He’s also asking for better prospects than the Cubs got for Garza, reports have it. Pretty strong stuff for a rookie GM.

Peavy’s health history appears to be an issue for the Orioles and owner Peter Angelos. Health and the $24 million together reportedly are issues for the Cardinals, Braves and Dodgers. That leaves the Red Sox and A’s.

It might appear that Hahn is playing a $24 million game of chicken with Peavy suitors as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches Wednesday, but there is one more element to this situation:

Hahn’s stance also tells teams, including his own, that he’s willing to bring back Peavy.

If reports are true, then Hahn is using all his leverage in this poker game, and good for him. Bluff or not, Hahn can act as if he’s fine with Peavy taking the second start behind Chris Sale next season. Hahn can convincingly bring back Peavy to a rotation that has been the best thing about the Sox this year.

In this death spiral of a season, the rotation and the bullpen are the only good things about the Sox.

No, wait, I forgot the grilled jumbo dogs and sausages with the onions and peppers at the concession stand behind the plate. That aroma is as hypnotically great as Alex Rios is aggravating.

Anyway, Hahn doesn’t have to deal Peavy, and if he ultimately doesn’t, he’s telling potential Sox ticket buyers that he’s not going scorched Sox the way Theo Epstein is blowing up the Cubs. I’m not sure what that’s worth. I also don’t know how many fewer fans the Sox could attract if they tried to rebuild and actually used the “R’’ word. Either way, it starts with pitching, and Sale and Peavy are quality starters.

But you’ll know Peavy will be traded if Dale Sveum says it’s “100 percent’’ that he’s pitching Tuesday night.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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