“Nothing is close,” he said. “I wouldn't say we are even remotely close to pulling the trigger on anything with Jake.”
Barring a more aggressive tack by the teams both favored by Peavy and willing to deliver high-end players for him – so far only the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs qualify – Towers is resigned to taking the Peavy talks into the early-December winter meetings and perhaps beyond.
While a source said Thursday morning there was “some movement” in negotiations with the Braves and a “much better than reported” offer from the Cubs, the Braves apparently are reluctant to include their best pitching talent in a deal and the Cubs lack the organizational depth of the Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Various reports have had the Braves offering a deal wrapped around shortstop Yunel Escobar and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez. The Padres surely like the athletic Escobar (particularly since their own shortstop, Khalil Greene, is being shopped as well), but they'd almost certainly require pitchers Jair Jurrjens or Tommy Hanson in return.
While Cubs manager Lou Piniella termed his team's interest in Peavy as “just talk,” a source called the Cubs' involvement “serious.” The Cubs are believed to have offered a package that includes outfielder Felix Pie, infielder Ronny Cedeno and starter Sean Marshall, but not Jeff Samardzija, another sticking point in the Padres' effort to get premium arms in return.
Into the final hours of the free agent exclusivity period, the Braves and Cubs remained the favorites, but in a competition beginning to drag. The Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals have fallen out of the bidding and the Dodgers, who have all the prospects Towers would need and more, have thus far failed to engage.
Towers might be left to request Peavy broaden his list of favored teams, from the original five, perhaps to include the New York clubs, among others.
When the Padres have agreed to players, Peavy will be asked to waive his no-trade rights. Then, Peavy – and his agent, Barry Axelrod – likely will negotiate compensation, at least a guarantee of his $22-million option in 2013.
Towers had hoped to reach that point by now, and certainly by the winter meetings.
Asked about his statement last week, when he predicted Peavy was close to being traded – the train has left the station, he said – Towers on Thursday chuckled.
“The momentum was there, I thought,” Towers said. “That doesn't mean the train can't come back to the station either.”
Notes: Shortstop Rafael Furcal, who'll get good play in free agency despite missing most of the season with back troubles (and, eventually, surgery) is seeking a four- or five-year contract averaging more than the $13 million he got from the Dodgers. The A's like him, but that much? … There are a lot of catchers being shopped. Add Yorvit Torrealba to the list. … Rival GM's are getting the idea the White Sox are hoping to cut payroll, and fast. Nick Swisher, who is due more than $21 million, was blown out – to the Yankees – on Thursday. “They'll trade potentially anybody for strong prospects,” one GM said. Maybe the economy scares them. Then again, maybe they're gearing up for something bigger, such as Sabathia, Manny or Teixeira. … The Padres are interested in Mike Hampton. And, ultimately, pitchers similar to Mike Hampton. Mark Prior will probably be back in San Diego.
- Kevin Towers