CLEVELAND – It was last call for interested teams, as the White Sox try to squeeze out the most talent in exchange for marquee pitcher Jake Peavy and alleviate some payroll before Wednesday's 3 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.
And it appears the Red Sox are the winners as they have improved their offer with enough top prospects to satisfy the White Sox, according to a White Sox source. All that's holding up the deal, the source intimated, is a check of Peavy's medical records. The trade should be official early today.
The Red Sox face a daunting schedule in the final 2 months and are desperate to have a veteran pitcher of Peavy's caliber.
Apparently, the Tigers also are involved in the trade with outfielder Avisail Garcia believed to be coming from them to the White Sox.
On another front, the Sox might have hit a snag in trying to deal right fielder Alex Rios, who suffered a bruise on top of his left foot after fouling off a pitch and had to leave in the top of the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game at Cleveland. The Pirates had a scout watching Rios, who will undergo X-rays.
If the Sox wanted to suit Peavy, who was scratched from his start Tuesday night for negotiating reasons, the Diamondbacks would have been a comfortable fit because of his association with general manager Kevin Towers and former agent Barry Axelrod (who works for Towers).
"If that was a place I were to end up going, it would be a comfortable place for me, just because of the relationships I have," said Peavy, who pitched for Towers with the Padres. "I've been in contact with people who have pretty good knowledge of what's going on, and I know there are some talks. We'll see the way it plays out.''
The Diamondbacks scouted Peavy's last two starts since he returned from a left rib fracture, and they have abundant talent in their farm system (particularly pitchers Tyler Skaggs, Archie Bradley and Randall Delgado).
The stumbling block, however, could be the remaining $23 million owed to Peavy for the balance of his contract that runs through 2014. The Diamondbacks were looking into potentially clearing salary space to accommodate Peavy.
Money also could be an issue with Rios, who is owed about $17 million through 2014. The Sox – led by executive vice president Ken Williams – have thoroughly scouted the Pirates' deep farm system.
In trades involving relievers Scott Linebrink and Matt Thornton, the Sox paid a portion of their salaries as part of their deals.
But Peavy, 32, was attracting the most interest because of playoff contenders' need for starting pitching and his experience. And Peavy represents the Sox's best trade chip to bring back the most value.
The Cardinals also face a tough schedule for the final 2 months, so the Sox were waiting as long as possible until a team emerged with a package of prospects attractive enough to finalize a deal.
Meanwhile, Peavy understood that by skipping his start Tuesday, he could pitch immediately for the team that acquires him. Peavy underwent his normal preparation as he tentatively was scheduled to pitch tonight for the Sox.
Before his injury, all the speculation was wearing thin on Rios.
"There have been too many things being said," said Rios, who added Sox general manager Rick Hahn has kept his agent, Paul Kinzer, abreast of his status. "It's a distraction right now. But hopefully it's Aug. 1 and it's in the past. Whatever happens, if I'm here, I'm here.
"But if I'm somewhere else, it would be nice for this to be all over."