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The Obsessive Peavywatch is back! New scuttlebutt from Jayson Stark has Jake Peavy possibly on the move, and the Cubs as a very possible destination.

The Cubs’ ownership limbo now looks as if it might stretch until Christmas Eve. So who knows whether Cubs GM Jim Hendry will even be released from captivity in time to pursue another Peavy deal come July. But whether it’s the Cubs or someone else, just about everybody we survey now believes that, with the Padres’ recent plummet in the standings, a Peavy trade looks practically inevitable.

“I don’t see how they can’t trade him,” said one of the sources in that survey. Jayson Stark – ESPN.

After a mini-hot start, a few prognosticators had Peavy staying in San Diego, but that certainly didn’t last. But just as the Padres have continued to deteriorate, so too has the economy. The Padres have gone from a position of power (how much can we get for Peavy?) to a position of relative weakness (how much of Peavy’s contract are we going to have to eat?).

Even though the Padres, unlike the Cubs, do have a new owner, they’re in an impossible spot. There have been no promises of injecting more money into the payroll. They just drew three of the four smallest crowds in the history of Petco Park. They’ve gone 24 straight games without having a starting pitcher win a game. And Peavy’s salary is about to high-jump to $15 million next year (then $16 million and $17 million the next two years). So keeping him around would seem to make zero sense for a team facing this much transition.

Of course, maybe the Cubs’ transitional stage will also preclude their involvement. Remember, many think – including me – that it is the escalation of current Cubs contracts in 2010that will make a Peavy deal difficult.

“I know how, when you’ve got to move a guy, you play poker for a while and try to drive a hard bargain,” said an official of one club who talks to the Padres regularly. “But they’re in a tough position. They’re not going to keep Jake in the situation they’re in. I can’t see it happening. And everybody knows it.”

But how long could the list of suitors possibly be? This, remember, is a man who will have $52 million left on his contract after this season — $70 million if his 2013 option gets picked up. And we remind you for the 998th time that he also holds a complete no-trade clause.

There was a time this past winter when Peavy was willing to go to only the Cubs or Dodgers. From all indications, he hasn’t added any destinations to that list recently. But then again, the Padres haven’t asked, either.

You’ve got to believe as the Padres continue to show a commitment to sucking for the next few years, Peavy will change his no-trade tune. And even if he doesn’t, the Dodgers may be newly rejuvenated in their pursuit of Peavy due to Manny Ramirez’s extended absence.

If there’s a hang-up to a deal’s getting done in midseason, it’s that the Padres thought they were getting seven players back in December if their four-team trade with the Cubs, Phillies and Orioles had gone down. And it might be tough for GM Kevin Towers to lower that bar.

But we wish them luck trying to make a deal that humongous in July, especially when the buyer also would be asked to take on all of Peavy’s salary.

“They’re going to have to realize that kind of deal isn’t happening,” said an exec of one large-market club. “The way the game is now, you can’t have it both ways. If you want anybody to take all $60 million, you can’t get their four or five best prospects, too. But I don’t think they want to be on the hook for all that dough. So they’re going to have to come to grips with what kind of deal this will have to be.”

The Padres are going to have to eat enough of Peavy’s deal such that it becomes a “market” deal in the current environment. If they do that, then they’ll get their two great prospects, and two pretty good prospects.

But what is “market” for a guy like Peavy in today’s market? Is it the $13, 14, 15 million that guys like Ryan Dempster and Derek Lowe got early in the off-season? Even though Peavy is the superior pitcher, I’m inclined to think the market has deteriorated a great deal since then. Peavy’s set to get a little over $17 million per after this year, and so it seems a logical starting point that the Padres will have to find a way to shave a couple million off that number – unless they want to give him away for free.

  • Cardfan

    Temper your enthusiasm, Ace.

    Link to a 5/7 article in the SD UnionTrib…

    http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/may/07/padres-sullivan-ramirez-affect-peavy20174/?padres

    Excerpts…
    “If General Manager Ned Colletti can effectively deploy the $7.7 million in salary Ramirez is no longer due, the Dodgers could be a better club when their performance-enhanced left fielder returns July 3 at Petco Park. This year more than most, those clubs with spare cash should be positioned to pounce as their pinched rivals struggle to meet payroll.

    This, people, is where the Padres could become a pertinent part of the story.
    By the end of May, the unpaid portion of Jake Peavy’s 2009 salary will slip beneath $7.7 million. As a short-term proposition, at least, that would mean the Dodgers would be able to add the Padres’ best pitcher without increasing the payroll they budgeted at the beginning of the season. ”

    “Whether the Dodgers would be willing to assume the payments is unclear – they have a lot of young players in line for large raises – but Peavy has made no secret of his affection for pitching in Chavez Ravine. Padres General Manager Kevin Towers said during the winter that he would not object to trading Peavy to his team’s fiercest rival if he can get enough talent in return. “

    • Ace

      Oh it’s tempered. I believe I said something about the Dodgers and Manny in there…

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