DANA POINT, Calif. -- As baseball's general managers gathered Monday at the seaside resort made infamous when insurance giant AIG held a week-long retreat here for its executives after the federal government offered an $85 billion bailout last month, a handful of National League clubs are hoping to take advantage of the San Diego Padres' excess.
The Padres, of course, aren't exactly calling it excess.
|In one year, Jake Peavy went from being San Diego's biggest asset to its biggest bargaining chip. (US Presswire)|
Of course, it was only 11 months ago that the Padres extended Peavy's contract, by three years and $52 million, and included a no-trade clause.
Didn't seem excessive at the time.
In fact, it was so under-market value that now, Peavy's agent, Barry Axelrod, said Monday he probably will seek contractual adjustments upward if Peavy is traded.
But the Padres opted to foist players like Paul McAnulty and Callix Crabbe on an unsuspecting public in 2008, sank like a stone in the standings, turned off their fans, watched attendance decline dramatically and then fastened their seatbelts to see how badly owner John Moores' impending divorce will contribute to shrinking the ballclub's finances.
Suddenly, with their $70 million payroll set to be downsized significantly -- one rumor floating around the St. Regis Resort on Monday pegged their '09 payroll at $38 million, $39 million -- they're even pricing Peavy to go.
Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers right now appear to be the three leading contenders, with two of Peavy's favorites -- Houston and St. Louis -- in the next tier.
His preference is to stay in the National League because he loves to hit (and, presumably, the lineups are easier to tame), though Padres general manager Kevin Towers cited the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels as two American League clubs to whom Peavy probably would approve a trade.
"There are a couple of clubs we think we match up with, and there are a couple he's interested in going to that we don't match up with," Towers said before joining his colleagues at an executive dinner Monday evening as this year's GM meetings officially kicked off.
Though Atlanta GM Frank Wren has put pitching prospect Tommy Hanson off limits, the Braves still seem the best match for several reasons, starting with the fact that they've got a deep system loaded with young players and Peavy, an Alabama native, is from that part of the country.
The Braves, for example, could include some combination from pitchers Charlie Morton and Kris Medlen, shortstop Yunel Escobar and outfielders Jordan Schaefer and Gorkys Hernandez. An Atlanta proposal including one of the pitchers, Escobar and one of those outfielders almost certainly would land Peavy -- though that might be too steep for the Braves.