Padres, Peavy never saw deal coming
Call from White Sox GM Williams set trade up quickly
SAN DIEGO -- No, no one saw this coming. Not Padres general manager Kevin Towers, who was knee-deep in a "mega-deal on the table," and certainly not Jake Peavy, who was spending his Friday as far away from the Trade Deadline fervor as possible.
"I was sleeping at 12:20 p.m. this afternoon with my middle son, Wyatt. I did not think it was going to happen," Peavy said. "This thing happened in around 40 minutes."
Peavy was referring to the trade that was consummated two minutes before the 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline on Friday, the deal that sent him from the only organization he's ever known to the Chicago White Sox, the same team he politely declined waiving his no-trade clause for two months ago.
Unlikely? That doesn't even begin to describe the wild events from Friday that saw these Padres not only move the 2007 National League Cy Young winner and his hefty contract but pick up four pitchers all under the age of 26, including one of the top prospects in the White Sox system, 22-year-old left-hander Aaron Poreda.
To top it off, the Peavy is on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right ankle that will likely keep him from pitching with the White Sox until Sept. 1 or so.
"I really did not think we were trading Jake Peavy at 10 o'clock this morning," Towers told reporters.
A phone call from White Sox general manager Kenny Williams changed all that, though. Towers was in conversation with several teams, including the "mega-deal" he alluded to that might have involved sending All-Stars Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell to the, gasp, Los Angeles Dodgers, according to SI.com. Towers wouldn't confirm as much.
That phone call got the ball rolling again on a deal that was eerily similar to the one that Peavy vetoed two months ago, a deal that included Poreda and pitchers Clayton Richard, Dexter Carter and Adam Russell. Without the parameters in place from that deal, the two teams couldn't have acted as quickly and decisively as they did Friday.
"Kenny is pretty persistent and a great guy to deal with," Towers said. "It was clear to me in my mind that Peavy was a guy he wanted and targeted. He told me he was going to get Peavy ... somehow, someway."
The White Sox will pay the remainder of Peavy's $10 million contract for this season and are on the hook for his $15 million in 2010, $16 million in 2011 and $17 million in 2012. The contract also includes a $22 million club option for 2013 with a $4 million buyout.
Williams actually said he started thinking about Peavy a year ago, oddly enough, at the Trade Deadline.
"Listen, in my world, if you get to a situation where you have a chance to get to the playoffs, you certainly want an opportunity to dream about winning in the playoffs and getting to the World Series and winning the World Series," Williams said. "I simply did not feel as though we were positioned right now to match up against some of the big boys in a short series when you are talking about the Yankees and Boston.
"If you are going to be in this position, you may as well have a strong enough position where you can dream."
That dream included the 28-year-old Peavy pitching in the White Sox rotation, and if it meant picking up Peavy's entire contract and making concessions for Peavy's family to visit him in Chicago, which was about Peavy's lone sticking point Friday, Williams was fine with that.
So what changed between May and Friday? Peavy insists he never told Williams and the White Sox that he wasn't interested in ever playing for him.
"In May, we didn't think it was the right time, but now things are a little bit different on a lot of fronts. ... I think the only reason this deal was able to get done is because they did pursue it actively in May," Peavy said. "In May, we had just won five or six games in a row and had creeped above .500, and Chicago wasn't really in the shape that they're in now."
Aside from Williams' insistence and fervor for having Peavy pitch in Chicago -- and for the White Sox, not the Cubs, who nearly obtained the right-hander last offseason -- the fact the Padres frequently approached Peavy about expanding the list of teams that he would accept a trade to finally wore on him.
"The ultimate decision was when the team you're playing for actively keeps telling you they need to move you, and one team comes after you like Chicago did, you're excited to play for a team where you know you're wanted," Peavy said. "This day was inevitable."
But not one that was devoid of sorrow for Peavy, who as a 17-year-old was drafted by the Padres in the 15tt-round of the 1999 Draft out of high school and who made his Major League debut in 2002 before a crowd of 60,021 at Qualcomm Stadium against the New York Yankees, eventually losing 1-0.
"This is all I've known since I was a 17-year-old kid," Peavy said. "There's been a lot of mixed emotions so far. Saying goodbye is going to be the toughest part. The Padres are in a different place than we were a few years ago. We had a few good years. Now, with the change in ownership and the payroll difficulties, things have changed.
"I was honored to be a part of this franchise for eight years."
In eight-plus seasons with the Padres, Peavy was 92-68 with a 3.29 ERA in 212 starts. He was a unanimous selection for the Cy Young Award in 2007 when he went 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 34 starts.
"I think the fans will always remember the fiery competitor -- the guy who takes the ball out on the mound and gives it all he's got for as long as he can ... yells and screams at himself and shows that emotion, wearing it on his sleeve."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.