While it's the other Sox pulling the trigger (or in this case, not), the Red Sox' offseason plans are not necessarily unaffected. Peavy, after all, is set to become one of the biggest names in a thin free agent class, and there's nothing the Red Sox need more than pitching.
Unfortunately, though, the White Sox telling Peavy they're not going to bring him back likely hurts more than it helps.
Peavy's option, after all, is basically the perfect scenario for the Red Sox. It's big money for big talent, with all the risk concentrated in the one year where money is no object. With less than $50 million in guaranteed contracts for 2013, even if you factor in another $50 million on arbitration players and returning FA, the challenge will be to spend all the money available to them on their 25-man roster without committing significant amounts of money to major long-term risks.
The thing is, if the Sox were ever going to get Peavy, the chances are it would be in a trade for the option. Even that was not completely plausible given that Peavy would have to green light any trade to Boston. His no-trade clause only covers eight teams, but realistically he only needs to include teams that can shell out $22 million for one player, so it's hard to imagine the Sox don't make their way on there.
Now, had Peavy been looking at going to Boston or staying in Chicago and getting $22 million either way, he might be willing to make the jump if he was truly courageous and believed he was good enough to make it in the AL East. After all, there's no better way to make your value jump than by getting both the Yankees and Red Sox in on any bidding war, and for Peavy to dispel any concerns that may have been fostered by his mediocre injury-plagued seasons there's nothing better than one good year in Fenway Park.
With the option year in Chicago off the table, however, Peavy has even less reason to accept any deal. As good as $22 million in one year is, Peavy will get $4 million just from going to free agency and then have the opportunity to sign his long-term deal immediately, coming off a good season of 3.40 ERA pitching. Not much incentive, then, to take a 1-year bargain unless the Sox are willing to go really nuts and drop one of the biggest AAV deals in the history of the game his way.
Of course, that might not actually be that bad of an idea. Again, spending this season just doesn't matter all that much so long as the Sox can drop their full budget and preferably stay under the luxury tax threshold. If they manage to fill other holes with plenty leftover, then they shouldn't hesitate to go all-out for a premium guy like Peavy, so long as they don't guarantee him time. Even if said deal breaks the mold in terms of dollars.
It's a bit of an outside-the-box move, but this is a unique situation the Sox find themselves in, and unique answers might be required.