The Braves' financial flexibility this off-season has been one of the few positives for fans over the past few months. With Tim Hudson lost for most of 2009 due to Tommy John surgery, the focus has been on strengthening Atlanta's starting rotation. Up until this point, fans and writers alike have been in a near consensus that the pitching help would come from a free agent market that is saturated with big names such as C.C. Sabathia, Ben Sheets, and Derek Lowe. That may change with the addition of a very big name to this year's trade market.
That player (as you've probably guessed by the title) is San Diego ace Jake Peavy. The right-hander is one of the game's best pitchers and more importantly for the Braves, is relatively cheap. If traded, Peavy would be owed just under $60 million over the next four years, or an average of around $15 million per season. For the average fan who's watching the stock market tank or trying to come up with the cash for his tuition, that's a hell of a lot of money; for a young ace-caliber pitcher, that's chump change.
There are two pretty sizeable obstacles for any team trying to acquire Peavy. First is his full no-trade clause. It seems as though no baseball writers can come to an agreement on just which teams Peavy would waive that clause for. Some say that he would only waive it for an NL team, while others seem to think there are a few AL teams the 27-year old would also accept a trade to. One of the few things these writers seem to be able to agree on is that the no-trade clause would not be an obstacle for Frank Wren, due to Peavy's ties to the Atlanta area (he is an Alabama native).
The other obstacle is putting together a package that could persuade Padres' GM Kevin Towers to actually deal his ace, and that could prove quite difficult for Wren and the Braves' front office. The Padres are almost certainly headed for a rebuilding phase but that doesn't mean there is any reason that Towers will feel compelled to trade Peavy, who will still have a huge market at the deadline or after the 2008 season. No one is going to call into question whether the Braves have the talent to get a deal done. The question is whether Frank Wren would be able to put together a deal that blows away the Padres, while also not mortgaging the future of the organization.
If I had to take a guess, I'd say that any deal would have to center around two of Jason Heyward, Tommy Hanson, Freddie Freeman, Jordan Schafer, Gorkys Hernandez, and Kelly Johnson. Heyward seems to have attained untouchable status, a rare label for a Braves' prospect, so he's likely out of the picture. I would guess that the rest of those players would be fair game if Wren was to get serious about Peavy, and a package of Hanson and Schafer could be very intriguing. Obviously that isn't enough to land Peavy but names like Martin Prado, Brandon Jones, Brent Lillibridge, Tyler Flowers, Cole Rohrbough, and Jeff Locke could fill out a very legitimate offer.
I'm sure that speculation and rumors will be flying around Peavy until he either gets traded or the season starts so we'll just have to wait and see. Whether he is traded to the Braves or not (and it more than likely won't happen), I'm sure that this is one of the many avenues that Frank Wren and his staff will explore in the upcoming months. I have to say that if we moved four of the names I listed earlier for Peavy, I don't think I'd be the least bit disappointed, but I'd guess that some of your sentiments will be different. What do you think about a potential Peavy deal?