In final hours, Reinsdorf signs off on Peavy
Chairman fretted over finances, injury before agreeing to deal
CHICAGO -- Sometime around 1:30 p.m. CT on Friday afternoon, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf first found out about general manager Ken Williams' second pursuit of San Diego hurler Jake Peavy.
"I thought it was a dead issue," said Reinsdorf, speaking on radio station ESPN 1000 in Chicago on Friday night, after the White Sox acquired Peavy for pitchers Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell and Dexter Carter, and before they claimed a 10-5 victory over the Yankees.
"Kenny didn't really come to talk to me about it until an hour and a half before the Deadline," Reinsdorf continued. "He sent me an e-mail and said, 'Do you want Jake Peavy?', and I replied, 'No, thank you.' I said, 'But I'm always willing to talk.' He and [assistant general manager] Rick Hahn came in and they talked me into it. That's how it went down."
Reinsdorf's original concerns were two-fold. One issue was the financial commitment to the one-time Cy Young winner, who will make $48 million over the next three years, and then has a $22 million option or $4 million buyout for 2013.
"Fifty-two million dollars is a lot to put on a pitcher," Reinsdorf said.
There also was concern that Peavy wouldn't be available to the White Sox until the end of August, at the earliest, as he works his way back from a strained tendon in his right ankle that has kept him on the disabled list since June 13. But two counter-issues won over the White Sox chairman.
"It really sets us up for the future with [Mark] Buehrle, [John] Danks, [Gavin] Floyd and Peavy," Reinsdorf said. "That's as good a four starters as you'll see in baseball, and I'm sure we will go out and get a fifth starter.
"Then, this year, if we can get to the playoffs, the playoffs are all about pitching. That's what won it for us in '05. I decided, 'OK, we'll roll the dice.'"
Before adding this sort of money to the payroll, the White Sox surveyed their financial situation. As Reinsdorf pointed out during the interview, the White Sox don't have unlimited funds like the Yankees or Red Sox. They did some analysis, taking a look at the payroll two and three years out, and what they can draw. It's an extended outlook the White Sox often examine, Reinsdorf said.
"We believe we can handle it," Reinsdorf said.
"As I sat down when I talked to Jerry, I said, 'Listen, we are either in it to win it or we are not. What are we?'" Williams said. "He agreed with me, with trepidation a little bit on some of the finances. I believe we will put ourselves in position to where it will be exciting again come the end of the season. We are here to dream, and to dream big and to win."
In Reinsdorf's long White Sox ownership tenure, dating back to 1981, he rates the magnitude of the Peavy trade right up there with the free agent signings of Carlton Fisk and Albert Belle. Neither Fisk nor Belle pushed the White Sox over the top for a championship, but maybe Peavy can be the missing piece in 2009, or in the next three years.
Ultimately, the financial commitment to one pitcher was worth it in Reinsdorf's mind.
"This game is all about trying to win for the fans," Reinsdorf said. "This really puts us in great position to give our fans a contending ballclub for the next several years."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.