BOSTON -- Eight months ago, he was buying a duck boat to haul back to his ranch in Alabama, as a championship memento that transcended any price tag affixed to it.
Tuesday night, pitcher Jake Peavy stood in a corner of the Red Sox clubhouse that has become home, with Jon Lester in the locker to one side of him and David Ross in the locker on the other side, and tried to come to grips with the idea that all of this is coming to an end.
A championship team gone to seed is about to be disassembled, and Peavy recognizes he might be among the first to go.
"There's no way that I would have ever -- in any way, shape or form -- thought this would be the situation we'd be faced with," he said. "That being said, this is a humbling game. There are a lot of intangibles and variables that go into putting together a championship ball club. And this shows, on a year-to-year basis, just how tough it is."
Peavy had spoken earlier in the day with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, who told him the Sox were talking to teams interested in trading for him.
"He was honest with me," Peavy said. "I don't know the ins and outs of really all that's been talked about, but I do know there have been conversations."
This past Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals sent a scout on a one-day mission to see Peavy pitch. The Cardinals had made a strong bid for Peavy before July 2013's trading deadline. "I was told that it was really close," Peavy said.
This time, he senses another trade is closing in on him. It would be the third in which he has been involved. The San Diego Padres traded him to the Chicago White Sox, who traded him to the Red Sox, who are now sorting through their options to find another landing spot, a contending team that could use a back-of-the-rotation starter with fire in his belly, even if the magic in his arm isn't what it used to be.
He's better prepared for the likelihood, Peavy said Tuesday, because he's been through it twice.
"I think they're going to trade people -- obviously, me and a handful of others -- that don't make sense to hold onto and go through this when we can have value to other teams," he said.
If the Red Sox let Peavy walk as a free agent after the season, he understands there will be no compensation attached. Better that they get something for him or even save a few bucks (there's nearly $5 million left on his deal) by trading him now.
"It's unfortunate, the situation we're in," Peavy said. "And certainly, in my mind, I'm a Boston Red Sox, and I will be until told otherwise. My heart and soul are not anywhere else."
On Tuesday afternoon, Peavy, who has won just one start all season, threw a bullpen session and studied video of the Houston Astros, the team he is scheduled to face Friday night in Houston.
"Still trying to figure out how I can win my next one," he said. "Anything I say and do, I want people to know that I love it here. I can't imagine having to tell some of the guys in this room, whom I love like family, goodbye [and] see them maybe once or twice a year. [But] you always try to look at it in a positive light because somebody wants you, and I have value, simply to save some money for the Red Sox."
Tuesday night's 8-3 loss to the White Sox dropped the Red Sox, a team that won 97 games in 2013, to 12 games under .500. They have 72 games remaining on their schedule; they'd have to go 42-30 just to finish at .500.
Ask Peavy how this came to pass, and he searches for an explanation. But first, he wants to stop anyone from thinking the past season was a happy accident.
"I'm going to tell you this right now," he said. "Last year was anything but a fluke. I'll go to my grave with that. I know that I believe that with all of my heart. Anybody who says that, I'd love to have a conversation with them and walk them through why this wasn't a fluke and why we were the best team in baseball last year. Maybe not personnel-wise, but we were the best team in baseball. We played the best team ball and cared about each other."
They sought to reprise that formula this season, Peavy said, but he admits they've fallen short, with their losing record bearing mute testimony to that reality.
"As much as you'd like to say it hasn't, it's been a different vibe from the get-go," he said. "It's hard to put a finger on that, it really is. You can point to a lot of different things, but at the end of the day it comes down to player performance. If you went around the room and asked everybody if they expected to play better, man for man, out of spring training, most guys would say, 'Yeah, I expected more of myself.' You'd better be bonded and join forces if you're not playing your best baseball, man for man, and we just haven't been able to pull that together."
And so Jake Peavy waits for what now feels inevitable, though a change of address can't strip away what he considers indelible.
"We share a brotherhood. We would have shared that brotherhood regardless of the way last season played out, but when it played out the way it did, it became a forever thing."