Sean McAdam's article talks about how much turmoil the Padres have incurred lately. Problems include owner John Moore's divorce, the team's unceremonious dumping of their Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman (let's face it, he's going to be elected into the Hall), and the inability of Towers to trade ace Jake Peavy:
To cut costs, Moores has ordered a slashing of the payroll. Hoffman, baseball's all-time saves leader and the face of the franchise, was angered when the Padres pulled back their $4 million offer for next year. He expects to finish his career elsewhere. Towers has been openly soliciting offers for Peavy.
The payroll, which was $73 million for the 2008 season, is likely to be sliced nearly in half for the 2009 season, forcing Towers' hand.
"It's kind of difficult to have one player eat up a quarter of your payroll," Towers said. "We lost 99 games with Jake, and we're not going to get better by keeping him and his salary."
Although talks with Atlanta and the Cubs have been on-again, off-again, the hope is that Towers can land three or four low-cost, high-ceiling players and begin the team's rebuilding. There's precedent: Before the 2006 season, he swapped pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka to Texas and got Young and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in return.
Talks are off right now, officially, but I have a strong suspicion that Towers will be the one going to Wren in order to get a deal done. Corey Brock writes about the problems as well on MLB.com:
The lack of progress in a deal involving pitcher Jake Peavy has had a significant effect on the Padres' ability to address their other roster needs this offseason.
And for a team coming off a 99-loss season in 2008, there are several areas that need to be filled, as general manager Kevin Towers wants to add starting pitching, relief pitching and shore up his bench for 2009.
But not knowing if the team can or will move Peavy and his $11 million contract for 2009 has all but left Towers in a standby mode until the future of the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner is decided.
"That's pretty much it," Towers said. "It's certainly a large sum of money we would be moving. Once that's decided, we will have a better idea of what holes we would be plugging."
If the Padres decide not to move Peavy in a deal -- Towers said late last week no deal is imminent -- then the 27-year-old will be the highest-paid player on a team that is looking at a dramatically-reduced payroll in 2009.
To date, the Padres and Braves have had extensive talks, but Atlanta GM Frank Wren indicated a week ago that the Braves were moving on. Still, Towers said the two sides had agreed upon at least part of the compensation package, and that he wouldn't rule out future talks with the Braves.
While the Padres haven't publicly committed to an official payroll total for 2009, it's expected to be in the range of $50 million, perhaps lower. The payroll in 2008 was $73.6 million.
Towers has said that he wants some starting pitching in return for Peavy, and he certainly would not turn his back on Major League-ready relief help to assist a bullpen that struggled mightily in 2008 and will likely be without closer Trevor Hoffman, who is a free agent and is not expected to return.
"It's more pitching than position players," Towers said of what he would be looking for in the event the Padres get permission to trade Peavy, who has a no-trade clause.
If we take all of this at face value, it seems as if Towers still wants Escobar and some of the Braves' pitching, like Charlie Morton, Jo-Jo Reyes and Jeff Locke. I think it's all a matter of him going back to Wren, because he needs to move Peavy and he seems very reluctant to take the Cubs' inferior package of Pie, Marshall and others because Chicago doesn't want to trade pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
As for Peavy having to approve any trade, I still question his concerns about playing in Atlanta. I've touched on that before, but I'll say it again: Why in the world was he acting like the Braves would never get past the Phillies and Mets while he pitches for them? Why in the world was he acting like the only thing the Braves would do is trade for him?