11/11/08 9:18 PM EST
Braves confident in offer for Peavy
Frustration setting in as both sides work toward a deal
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
With every indication that the Cubs are the only other team bidding for Peavy, the Braves believe their offer of a 3-for-1 deal that would be highlighted by shortstop Yunel Escobar and include either of two center fielders -- Gorkys Hernandez or Jordan Schafer -- plus a pitcher is superior to anything else the Padres could obtain.
Multiple Major League sources have said that this package is more significant than anything the Cubs could offer. Thus, as they continue to negotiate, the Braves have to avoid potentially bidding against themselves.
It seems highly likely that Escobar and Hernandez, who was rated the third-best prospect in the Carolina League, would be the headliners of any package the Padres may finally agree upon. One of two pitchers, Charlie Morton or JoJo Reyes, would further sweeten the deal.
When Padres GM Kevin Towers signed Peavy around this time last year, he believed that he'd provided his organization an ace for at least the next five seasons. But team ownership has since demanded that his payroll be reduced, and consequently, Towers now finds himself having to trade Peavy.
Towers is close with both Peavy and Peavy's agent, Barry Axelrod. Before asking them to waive the 27-year-old pitcher's no-trade clause, he would like to find a destination that appeases Peavy, who has expressed concerns that the Braves might not be able to compete for a National League East crown.
At the same time, Towers wants to make sure he gets maximum compensation for the pitcher who was recently regarded as the foundation for his club's future.
Mix all these factors together, and it at least becomes a little easier to understand why Towers has been reluctant to complete this deal without asking the Braves to include at least one more player in their compensation package.
But with Escobar already part of the package, the Braves don't feel as though they need to add another player. And Escobar has already played 230 big league games, so it doesn't seem accurate to calculate him as just one of the multiple prospects being offered.
With a .303 career batting average, a cannon arm and the reality that he won't be arbitration-eligible until after the 2010 season, Escobar would be more appropriately viewed as a shortstop that most Major League clubs would love to have.
Braves GM Frank Wren and his staff have followed various reports, including some that have speculated the Cubs might be trying to enhance their offer by getting a third club involved. But as the days pass, there's more reason to wonder if the Padres are simply keeping the Cubs in play to use as leverage to possibly pry at least one more prospect from the Braves.
The Padres want pitching, and with either Morton or Reyes, they would gain a Major League-tested hurler who was highly regarded before struggling this past year. At this time last year, Morton was dominating the Arizona Fall League and getting some of the same kind of attention currently aimed toward Tommy Hanson, whom the Padres coveted before realizing that the Braves weren't going to move him.
The Padres have inquired about a number of Minor League pitchers, including Jeff Locke, a promising 21-year-old left-hander who was the most attractive part of the package the Braves offered the Pirates in exchange for Jason Bay in July.
Given the other parts they've already included in this trade proposal, it seems highly unlikely that the Braves would also include Locke.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.