Pitcher Jake Peavy's slow, torturous path out of San Diego remained on hold Thursday.
"I don't know if this is gamesmanship or what," Barry Axelrod, Peavy's agent, said Thursday afternoon. "At one point the Braves were hot and heavy, then they were not. And then they're hot again."
Not hot enough, however, for the Padres to agree with Atlanta on what sources with knowledge of the talks say is a four-player package that, as of Wednesday night, was likely to send shortstop Yunel Escobar, starting pitcher Charlie Morton, Class A outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and reliever Blaine Boyer to San Diego.
"I assume if and when they get to the point where they've tentatively agreed on something, they will bring us in," Axelrod said. "They have to. I haven't been updated on any progress."
The Braves had been pushing the Padres for an answer before the free agent market opens on Friday (until then, clubs can negotiate only with their own free agents).
Atlanta needs at least two starting pitchers, and the Braves, who appear to have been the most aggressive of anyone in their pursuit of Peavy, would like to go into the free agent market knowing whether they're looking at signing one starter (in the event they complete a Peavy trade) or two (in the event they don't).
"I'm not surprised it's been difficult," Axelrod said. "It's a very difficult trade to make. Notwithstanding the no-trade rights Jake has. the Padres laid out that it was going to have to be a big package.
"The other team has to assume a hefty contract -- it's a bargain this year, and hefty after that -- and give up what Kevin (Towers, Padres' general manager) deems to be enough. And if it's a starting pitcher, infielder, reliever ... that could deplete somebody's system.
"It's a tough deal to make."
Axelrod spoke by telephone with Peavy earlier Thursday when the pitcher changed planes en route home from Puerto Rico and told him there was nothing to update.
"Most of our conversations have been him asking, 'What's new? Is anything new up?' and me saying, 'No, haven't heard anything, have a good trip, see ya when you get back,'" Axelrod said.
So the Padres have neither accepted the Braves' offer nor asked that Peavy waive the no-trade clause, and the cat-and-mouse game continues.
Meantime, when a deal for Peavy is struck, it almost certainly will require more than a simple "yes" or "no" when it comes to waiving the no-trade clause. Even regarding the initial small list of potential clubs to whom Peavy has said he probably would accept a deal, the pitcher and Axelrod have compiled a checklist of sorts that they would require that includes things such as a housing allowance, guaranteeing his $22 million option for 2013 and travel for his wife and children.
Depending on the acquiring club, Peavy may require more or less from that list. It is believed that his preference is to play in Chicago with the Cubs. Wherever he lands, he is expected to demand a full no-trade clause.
"People keep asking me, 'What do you expect?'" Axelrod said. "I tell them I don't know. I've been doing this 30 years and I've never been through one of these before. I don't have any precedent.
"I had Phil Nevin and he was traded twice with no-trade clauses, and that had to be considered. But I've never had one quite like this."