DANA POINT, Calif. – The Atlanta Braves are optimistic enough about acquiring San Diego Padres right-hander Jake Peavy that they are discussing plans for replacing players possibly headed to San Diego, two agents said Wednesday.
And while that perhaps qualifies as progress – the Braves have the need and the means to take Peavy off John Moores' hands – the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals are known to be covering themselves in the same manner. It's the nature of these things, contingencies wrapped in what-ifs.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, however, are not so directed with respect to the trade market. They are more so regarding Manny Ramirez, to whom they offered what is believed to be a two-year deal for about $50 million, with a club option for an additional year.
Still inside a week since the end of the World Series, there are two impact players being shopped. Peavy is one, Colorado Rockies slugger Matt Holliday is the other. And while the Dodgers are on Peavy's list, and while they did inquire about Holliday going into the last trading deadline, they so far have been run off by the high intra-division costs of the players.
In July, for example, the price for Holliday outside the NL West typically was three players, two of them at the elite level (both in terms of talent and affordability), one of them a pitcher.
One source mentioned a potential three-way deal that would send outfielder Hideki Matsui from the New York Yankees to the Seattle Mariners for a pitching prospect, perhaps Ryan Rowland-Smith. The Yankees would package the prospect with second baseman Robinson Cano and another young player to the Rockies for Holliday.
The cost certainly would be that high. Same in San Diego, where Sandy Alderson and Kevin Towers have this one chance to trade Peavy and make something of the Padres. So, at a time of a pretty substantial retooling, the Dodgers happened into a climate that is less than perfect for them, but better for teams that ordinarily couldn't compete on the trade front with the Dodgers' young talent.
On Day 3 of the general managers' meetings at the St. Regis hotel, however, the Dodgers took a firm step forward on Ramirez.
"If you saw the bid," GM Ned Colletti said, "it's nothing we're embarrassed by."
There is, of course, no way Ramirez accepts.
For one thing, as one GM said wryly, "Manny hates options," and that particular option would come up far too quickly, making Manny cranky and unbearable to be around. Agent Scott Boras is seeking something more along the lines of four or five years, meaning the harder push should be expected from an American League team that eventually could use Ramirez as a designated hitter, or an NL team willing to see Ramirez as an outfielder into his 40s.
So this offer doesn't suggest the Dodgers aren't intent on finishing second to the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, or whomever. The Dodgers' window of exclusivity on Ramirez concludes in a week, which would serve as a natural deadline.
"We said, 'Think about it for a while,' " Colletti said. "It's not going to be there forever."
Meantime, the Padres and Rockies worked here to shed payroll and start over. Peavy is the ace who works for less than Johan Santana and CC Sabathia money, though he gets expensive after 2009, when his three-year, $52-million extension kicks in. It's beginning to look like a Braves-Cubs race, with the likely conclusion being Peavy in Atlanta.
"We need a couple starters, maybe more than that," Braves GM Frank Wren said.
And he'd like them to be good, he said, smiling. And he'd like them soon.
"I'd like to have something now," he said.
The Padres (who are hoping to trade shortstop Khalil Greene as well) now almost have to trade Peavy, if only to save themselves the daily dramas of Jake still around in the regular season. And, though they are restricted by Peavy's veto powers, the Padres have found great demand, just not enough to make the trade just yet.
"The Plan B," CEO Alderson said, "is to fit him in a uniform with a 40th anniversary patch."
But, Alderson said, "We're at the GM meetings, not the winter meetings. We're still working our way through it."
The Rockies are about where they were a year ago, and then four months ago, with a ballclub that's getting expensive in places by mid-market standards. So, they're trolling Holliday, third baseman Garrett Atkins and center fielder Willy Taveras from a team that spiraled from the World Series to third place in a terrible NL West.
Asked where he expected Holliday to be in April, one NL GM said, "If they're asking for the same things they were in July, he'll be in Colorado."
The Yankees also are expected to at least check in on Taveras, given the current state of their outfield. Getting going on those sorts of things, Brian Cashman said with a grin. He's waiting on Sabathia, on Mark Teixeira, on A.J. Burnett, on Derek Lowe and whatever else might fit.
"We're going to be on the board with pitchers and position players," he said. "We're going to show a lot of love."
Notes: Ben Sheets' strained right elbow, which nearly cost the Milwaukee Brewers a place in the playoffs and did cost Sheets a place on the postseason roster, according to agent Casey Close, "is healing and should be fine. There's no structural problems." Sheets hasn't made all of his starts in a season since 2004. … Shortstop Rafael Furcal is less inclined to accept the shorter-term, higher-average-annual-value contract than he was three years ago, when he signed with the Dodgers for three years and $39 million, his agent, Paul Kinzer, said Wednesday. Furcal is getting a lot of play here, but has yet to receive an offer from the Dodgers. … Cleveland Indians GM Mark Shapiro met with Kinzer to discuss free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez. … The Tampa Bay Rays need a bat, preferably as a right fielder or DH. The way they get it could be interesting. Years of stockpiling and developing pitchers have left GM Andrew Friedman with something of a surplus. "We feel like we have some depth there," he said. "That said, we're not going to get too giddy about in it the offseason. It's not something we're necessarily going to be aggressive about." But, it's there.