The Braves-Padres talk went something like this:
Towers: Frank, how are you?
Wren: Good, Kevin. How are things on the West Coast?
Towers: Well, the weather’s nice but I’ve been told to slash and burn the payroll.
Wren: Really? That’s a tough assignment. I might be able to take Jake Peavy off your hands.
Towers: That’s why I was calling actually.
Towers: See, I’m looking for a young SS and was wondering about the availability of Escobar.
Wren: Escobar’s a great player. We love having him around but he’s not untouchable.
Towers: Great to hear that. I’d also like your top pitching prospect and 2 others.
Towers: Frank. Frank? …
Every winter you hear about a big name veteran who might be moved. Every winter the team wants one thing back in return — a young cost controlled SS. Guess what? Every GM in baseball wants one of those. For the most part, teams have figured out that it’s usually a bad idea to trade those guys. So when rumors that the Padres wanted a young SS in return for Peavy sprang up, I shrugged. Of course they do. At the end of the day, if they’re really determined to move Peavy, they’re going to take the best package, whch may or may not include a SS.
With the acquisition of Javier Vazquez, the Braves appear to be less interested in Peavy than before. Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson are less likely to be moved with the departure of Lillibridge and Tommy Hanson seems all but untouchable. The Cubs continue their tepid discussions as the team gets sold and Peavy remains a Padre. Should the Cardinals get involved if they weren’t already? Could they assemble a package for the Padres that would make the trade amenable?
The answer to the second question is an easy yes. Include Colby Rasmus and that deal gets done yesterday. There’s a less likely, though not impossible chance that they could assemble a package around other players that’s more quantity than quality (read: it doesn’t includ Rasmus). Thinking along the lines of what the A’s got back from the Diamondbacks for a package of similarity. Haren’s not quite as good a pitcher but he was signed to a lesser contract as well.
Starting with some major league talent in Skip Schumaker offers the Padres some immediate cheap help to their lineup. If there’s no interest in him, turn to the farm system. Bryan Anderson is, in spite of my appreciation for offensive catchers, expendable. He’s a line drive hitter with good contact skills which would fair better in the cavernous PETCO than a HR oriented catcher. The Padres lack an obvious backstop (Nick Hundley is not an everyday catcher) so there’s a seeming match there. Tapping from deep outfield stock, the Cardinals could offer two of Daryl Jones, Jon Jay, Joe Mather or Tyler Henley (an underrated prospect, imo). Add in a middle infielder as well — one of David Freese, Allen Craig or Pete Kozma
Teams are always looking for pitching, which is perhaps the weakest area of the Cardinals’ farm. Two of Mitchell Bogs, Jess Todd, Clayton Mortensen, PJ Walters and Tyler Herron. Again, this isn’t a strong group that includes a pitcher of Tommy Hanson’s caliber or an ace in the making.
Package: Bryan Anderson, Allen Craig, Skip Schumaker, Daryl Jones, Mitchell Boggs and PJ Walters
Return: Jake Peavy
Swap names in and out as you’d like but a) it’s going to take that many prospects and b) the Padres aren’t going to eat any salary.
What is Peavy projected to do in 2009? 3.45 FIP in 169 innings. I’m going to bump that to 3.75 since he won’t have the benefit of PETCO.
Peavy:3.75 * 169 = 70 runs
Replacement: 5.50 * 160 + 5.00 * 9 = 103 runs
Peavy is about a 3.3 WAR player next year. The Cardinals would get about a 3 win upgrade over someone like Pineiro, maybe 3.5 over Boggs for a full season. Peavy makes 8M in ’09 with raises to 15M, 16M and 17M for ’10-’12. There’s a club option for 22M with a 4M buyout in 2013. Peavy’s worth about 15M next year but the median you could hope for would be him holding par moving forward from ’10-’12 (that option should never be picked up). If you want to assign percentiles for upside think of Peavy as 90%:- 5WAR, 75% – 4WAR, 50% – 3WAR, 25% – 2WAR, 10% – 1WAR. There’s no obvious discount in the contract though and the deal reminds me a lot of the Chris Carpenter contract that was at or near market value.
Should the Cardinals make a trade like that? I don’t know. The loss of those prospects, while hefty, doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the size of Peavy’s contract and his balky elbow or shoulder this past season. The 800-pound gorilaa in the room (who is about 550 pounds shy of actually being an 800-pound gorilla) is the upcoming Albert Pujols contract. The Cardinals have quite a few big money contracts on their hands as is (Carpenter, Lohse, Wainwright) and adding another strikes me as the hair that breaks the camel’s back.
There’s an argument to be made for acquiring Peavy, however, and it’s not an uncompelling one.