Cubs general manager Jim Hendry told Padres GM Kevin Towers on Thursday morning that the Cubs have decided to do other things. Their first priority is adding a left-handed bat. Among those they're interested in on the free-agent market are Milton Bradley and Raul Ibanez. They also are investigating the possibility of adding free agent lefty pitcher Randy Johnson.
Whatever they do, it won't be Peavy.
"It was the Cubs' decision," Towers said. "They ruled it out this morning."
The Padres had constructed an elaborate deal with the Cubs that would have involved three or four teams, most likely Baltimore and Philadelphia. Other teams became involved in the talks when it became apparent that the Cubs were thinking of including infielder Mark DeRosa in the deal. Minnesota, for example, called and inquired about DeRosa -- the Twins wanted to play him at third base.
The Padres were attempting to arrange a four-, five-, or six-player package for Peavy and, among other scenarios, were talking about the possibility of acquiring Cubs third base prospect Josh Vitters, right-hander Kevin Hart, Baltimore pitcher Garret Olson and Philadelphia pitcher J.A. Happ, among others.
The Cubs were going to have to move pitcher Jason Marquis and his $9.875 million salary, and because they couldn't find another taker, he was going to go to the Padres -- but the Cubs were going to have to pick up a significant portion.
A Cubs source said that they ultimately decided it was simply too many prospects and too much money for them. The Phillies are described as being very disappointed because they were hoping to obtain infielder Mark DeRosa from the Cubs in the deal. They still could engage the Cubs in those talks, though Chicago doesn't really want to trade DeRosa.
Talks regarding Peavy have been dragging on for eight weeks or more, and the Padres have gone from being close with Atlanta to close with the Cubs to, now, apparently, being forced to huddle back in San Diego next week and discuss their alternatives.
"We'll regroup next week and figure out what we're going to do," Towers said.
There is one thing the GM is sure of.
"We need to start moving forward," Towers said. "We can't keep doing this deep into the winter."
The Padres have been searching for trade partners because they're attempting to shed payroll, and Peavy is owed $63 million over the next four years. Owner John Moores is in the middle of an ugly divorce that sources say will strap him for cash, the team lost 99 games in 2008 and attendance dropped almost 13 percent.
The long and laborious talks with Peavy have undergone several bizarre twists, most recently when the pitcher was reported to have been in a Las Vegas bar the other night singing "Go Cubs Go" after attending a Brooks and Dunn concert with his buddy, Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt. The only part of that story that I've confirmed is that Peavy indeed was in Las Vegas this week. Among other things, he attended Greg Maddux's retirement press conference.
One alternative now, he said, is to release a statement that the club will keep Peavy.
But that doesn't change the fact that the Padres need to shave payroll.
While Towers said he didn't sense from Hendry that the deal could be resurrected with the Cubs, the domino effect of what else happens on the market this winter still could take this thing in a different direction.
Atlanta on Thursday remained deep in negotiations attempting to land free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett. If he goes to the New York Yankees, though, the Braves will be forced to readjust and conceivably could re-engage the Padres.
Also, as CBSSports.com reported several weeks ago, the Los Angeles Angels held brief conversations with the Padres about Peavy several weeks ago, and sources with knowledge of the Angels' thinking say the club very well might turn its attention back to Peavy if the Angels whiff on Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. With Sabathia having been delivered to the Yankees, the Angels so far are 0-for-1.
Further complicating the situation, though, is that Peavy has no-trade powers and so far has used them to attempt to steer himself toward Chicago. Several people close to the talks believe Peavy is not enamored with going to Atlanta. It is believed he may approve a deal to the Angels, though he could ask for contractual concessions. His preference is to stay in the National League.
Towers said he would probably talk to Barry Axelrod, Peavy's agent, and tell him it's not going to work with the Cubs and they'll have to move on to other alternatives.
"Even if he wants to go somewhere else, I think we need to sit down as an organization and say, 'Do we want to go through this process again?'" Towers said. "It's difficult on the fans."
Not to mention difficult on the Padres, and everyone they're dealing with.
"We're asking a lot," Towers said. "To move Jake Peavy, we would plan on getting a lot. We knew going into the winter there were no guarantees."