Regardless of Garza, a returning Jake Peavy may be the market star

Jake Peavy returns to the mound Saturday, instantly becoming a star of the trade market, perhaps even the biggest star.

Personally, I wouldn't mind Matt Garza, who was nearly traded to the Rangers on Friday before a snag has put the talks in limbo. Garza is hot and has a contract that comes off the books after the year. However, a quick, unscientific and small texting survey of GMs and assistant GMs revealed they favor Peavy even though Peavy isn't as hot (in fact, he hasn't pitched since June 4 due to a fractured left rib) and has a contract through 2014 that pays him $14.5 million next year.

Actually, the extra year on Peavy's deal is looked upon favorably by the GMs surveyed.

Potentially, there could be close to four times the number of starts for a pitcher signed through next year as opposed to this year (45 or so to about 12). But the other issue favoring a player contracted past 2013 is that rentals who are acquired in-season can't be extended a qualifying offer by their new team, meaning there's no chance to receive a coveted extra compensatory draft choice.

Beyond all that, execs seem pretty enamored of Peavy, who is 6-4 with a 4.30 ERA but was extremely good last year and has a Cy Young award in his not-too-distant past. So Peavy's return is amazingly timely since it comes 11 days before the trade deadline. He looks like the centerpiece of what could be an extensive sale by the White Sox, who have told teams everyone's available except veteran Paul Konerko, who has no-trade veto powers, and young star left-hander Chris Sale.

"Peavy has been better than Garza except for lately and he has done it in a hitter's park in the American League,'' one NL general manager said, summing up the feelings of many. "Garza's better for 2013, but I think Peavy has more overall value. Peavy was really good early until he got hurt.''

If the Garza deal gets done soon somewhere, Peavy should be the clear prize considering there's no sign Cliff Lee is going anywhere, Yovani Gallardo has been inconsistent this year and Bud Norris isn't in his category. In a very thin remaining market for starting pitchers, the White Sox could get a haul for Peavy.

Peavy, who faces the Braves at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, had a no-trade provision in his Padres deal and rejected the White Sox's first attempt to acquire him before he accepted the second time, just a few minutes before the trade deadline in 2009. This time Peavy has no no-trade protection -- though his public comments so far suggest that while he likes the White Sox he isn't necessarily opposed to moving to a contender.

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