A Peavy blockbuster could occur before or during the general managers' meetings in Dana Point, Ca., in early November. Or, the process could stall, in part because Peavy holds a full no-trade clause, in part because no team will meet the Padres' price this early in the offseason.
"This is different than the Haren situation for multiple reasons," one general manager said, referring to right-hander Dan Haren, whom the A's traded to the Diamondbacks last offseason. "First off, the contracts are far different. Second, Peavy is a greater health risk."
Peavy, 27, is owed $59 million over the next four seasons, plus either a $22 million option or $4 million buyout for 2013. His salaries are quite reasonable, especially when compared to the dollars that Sabathia, Burnett and Lowe are likely to command.
Haren, though, was owed even less a year ago—far less. The Diamondbacks wanted not only the pitcher, but also his contract—$9.5 million over two seasons, plus a $6.75 million club option. They sent six prospects to the A's for Haren and another minor leaguer, and later awarded Haren a four-year, $44.75 million extension.
The other concern with Peavy, as the GM noted, is health. Though Peavy produced three straight 200-inning seasons from 2005 to '07, he missed nearly a month last season with a strained right elbow, and rival scouts describe his delivery as "taxing." Haren, who has never been on the DL, is 6'5", 215 pounds. Peavy is 6'1", 193.
Still, this is Jake Peavy, winner of the 2007 National League Cy Young Award, owner of the fifth-highest strikeout rate among active pitchers. Any team that acquires him will do so only after giving him an extensive physical examination. And every pitcher, to some degree, is a physical risk.
Peavy's agent, Barry Axelrod, has said that the pitcher would prefer to stay in the National League, mentioning teams such as the Braves, Cubs, Astros, Dodgers and Cardinals to the San Diego Union-Tribune. But Peavy likely would waive his no-trade clause for the right AL team.
An early ranking of the teams in the Peavy sweepstakes, based on discussions with baseball people over the past several days:
—Braves. They've floated several packages, recognizing that they might need to part with shortstop Yunel Escobar to satisfy the Padres' desire for middle-infield help as well as young pitching. Peavy, a resident of Semmes, Al., would relish the chance to move close to home.
—Angels. Masters of the surprise move, the Angels consider the acquisition of a front-line starting pitcher as much of a priority as re-signing Mark Teixeira or replacing him with another big bat.
Second baseman Howie Kendrick could be part of any offer, and if the Angels acquired Peavy, they then could send righty Ervin Santana or lefty Joe Saunders to the Rockies in a package for left fielder Matt Holliday or third baseman Garrett Atkins.
—Yankees. Imagine if they signed Sabathia and traded for Peavy, adding two of the top 30-and-under starting pitchers in the game to a rotation that already includes Chien-Ming Wang, 28, and Joba Chamberlain, 23. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, owed $25 million over the next three seasons, should be affordable for even the Padres. But would Peavy be willing to pitch in the AL East?
—Mets. Definite interest on the club's part; the question, as with the Yankees, is whether Peavy would be willing to play in New York. The Mets could offer lefty Jon Niese or righty Robert Parnell, and the Padres no doubt would want Daniel Murphy, an impressive hitter who is defensively challenged.
—Red Sox. The team, while currently occupied, can not be ruled out of any Peavy discussion. The Red Sox are deep in pitching prospects as well as young shortstops, they control Josh Beckett only through 2010 and G.M. Theo Epstein enjoys an excellent relationship with his Padres counterpart, Kevin Towers. One rival executive's proposed package: Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Jed Lowrie, right-hander Justin Masterson.
—Cubs. They always have liked Peavy, but probably would enter the discussions only if they lost right-hander Ryan Dempster as a free agent, which is unlikely. Even then, the Cubs might not match up with the Padres.
—Astros. Roy Oswalt can lobby all he wants for Peavy; his team is not nearly deep enough in prospects to satisfy the Padres.
—Dodgers. When the Rockies were entertaining offers for Holliday last summer, they told the Dodgers that the price for them, as a division rival, would be higher than it was for any other club. The Padres almost certainly would take the same approach with Peavy.
—Cardinals. Another of Peavy's preferred teams that is not a good fit. The Cardinals, facing multiple needs, do not want to invest in all of their available payroll and top prospects in one move.
—Brewers. Their fear would be that Peavy could turn into another Ben Sheets, suffering frequent injuries while earning $48 million from 2010 to '12. A Rickie Weeks-J.J. Hardy offer would snap the Padres to attention—look ma, a new middle infield!—but the Brewers are not going to part with their best young pitchers, righty Yovani Gallardo and lefty Manny Parra.
—Rays. The addition of Peavy would be ideal for a rotation that already includes James Shields, Scott Kazmir, David Price and Andy Sonnanstine. Tampa-St. Pete is relatively close to Alabama, and an Edwin Jackson-Reid Brignac-Jeff Niemann package might entice the Padres. The Rays, however, are wary of taking on significant payroll while parting with top young players.
—Rangers. The Padres surely are intrigued by the Rangers' farm system, but moving from pitcher-friendly Petco Park to hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark would not be Peavy's idea of fun.
Around the Horn
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This article originally published on FOXSports.com.
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