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01/26/09 9:30 PM EST
Peavy deal could follow Cubs sale
Friars ace may be on move once Chicago changes ownership
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
A previously discussed trade of All-Star right-handed pitcher Jake Peavy from the Padres to the Cubs is expected to be revived once the sale of the Chicago club is finalized later this spring, sources close to the situation told MLB.com. Neither team, however, indicated Monday that the sides are actively re-engaged on the topic. Nevertheless, other highly placed sources suggested the move looks like a matter of when, not if, based on various developments. Negotiations toward a deal, widely publicized these last two months, previously involved additional teams. But as the Cubs have buttoned up other moves, they now appear prepared to acquire Peavy in a two-team transaction with the Padres. As part of the deal, San Diego could get Garrett Olson, the starting pitcher the Cubs just obtained from the Orioles in a trade for left fielder Felix Pie. The Padres had "identified" Olson as a possible component when the teams extensively talked during the Winter Meetings. On Thursday, it was announced that investment banker Tom Ricketts had emerged as the top bidder to complete an exclusive agreement with the Tribune Co. to purchase the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in their regional sports network for a reported $900 million. Cubs management, naturally, would want signoff from new ownership before further advancing trade talks that ultimately would mean taking on the $63 million remaining on Peavy's contract. "I always say that the closer we get to Spring Training, the less likely it is we'll be moving Jake," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said when reached by phone in San Diego on Monday. "We've got to get ready for our season. I wouldn't say it couldn't happen, but it's going to be more difficult than it was at the Winter Meetings." Cubs president Crane Kenney said two weeks ago that he hoped to have new ownership in place by Opening Day so that the team could "move forward with some things that have been idling." Kenney declined to address reviving the Peavy trade in an e-mail response on Monday. "We're not commenting on this or other speculation on post-transition moves," he said. The Ricketts family still has to raise the capital to close the sale. The Tribune Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection. And although the Cubs and their assets were excluded from that filing, the sale could be subject to additional inspection. Once over that hurdle, the sale would have to be approved by 75 percent of Major League Baseball's 30 owners. Though it may seem improbable for the ownership situation to get cemented by Opening Day (April 5), Commissioner Bud Selig said that baseball would work expeditiously to get it done by then. "We'll do our best," Selig said at the owners' meetings in Arizona earlier in the month. "Yes, I think that is reasonable." Padres owner John Moores currently has part of his club for sale, as well, and is in the process of taking the next step with former Diamondbacks general partner Jeff Moorad about initially selling at least a portion of the team. A Peavy trade would address a priority for the Padres to acquire promising young prospects in return for expensive veteran players, as clubs such as the Athletics, Rays and Twins have done successfully in the recent past. Moores instructed management to decrease last season's $73.6 million player payroll to about $40 million in 2009. With Peavy's $11 million still on the books for this season, the current projected payroll is at about $45 million. Beyond '09, Peavy is owed another $52 million in a deal that runs through 2012 and includes a club option for 2013. The option is for $22 million with a $4 million buyout. Towers said he last spoke with Cubs GM Jim Hendry on the phone about a week ago, but he added that there had been no substantive trade talks since a four-way deal that included the Phillies and Orioles broke down in December as the Winter Meetings closed. Towers did say on Monday that Olson was a player he likes and was "identified" as part of the deal that was considered last month. Regarding the payroll, Towers said that he isn't yet at the appropriate total. "But we're not forced to dump players," he said. "There are ways of getting where we need to be so John's comfortable by the end of the season. I didn't want to feel like I was being leveraged on Peavy. I didn't want that to happen." Peavy won the National League's Cy Young Award in 2007 when he captured the NL's pitching Triple Crown -- most wins and strikeouts and the lowest ERA -- with a 19-6 record, 240 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA. Last season, he spent a stint on the disabled list with arm trouble and slumped to 10-11 with 166 strikeouts and a 2.85 ERA.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.