Maybe there is no deadline. Maybe there is still a chance the Braves can get Jake Peavy. But has the time come where Braves GM Frank Wren has just got to move on?
There have been a million reports – some probably right, some probably wrong – about the rumors surrounding a Peavy trade to Atlanta. Either way it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something has held up this trade. Something has made it impossible for one of the teams to say, ‘yes.’
Perhaps Padres GM Kevin Towers just wants too much. Perhaps Wren won’t budge on certain prospects. Perhaps Peavy doesn’t really care about coming to Atlanta as we thought he would. Perhaps this is just not going to happen.
The names that have been brought up seem fair enough. Padres fans might not think so, but it’s not like other teams are lining up with better offers. The Braves are prepared to give up shortstop Yunel Escobar, outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, and a starting pitcher – either Charlie Morton or Jo Jo Reyes.
Escobar is a controllable shortstop still a year away from arbitration. He’s got All-Star potential, a gun for an arm, solid defensive skills, and is a very good offensive player. Hernandez is an above average defensive player, with great speed and a potential dangerous bat. And either Morton or Reyes would slide right into the San Diego rotation.
Yet that is not enough, or so it seems. Throw in a lower-level fringe prospect to give them four players. Okay, that’s fine. But evidently it’s just not enough. It’s better than the Cubs reported offer, but it’s still evidently just not enough.
Wren has to make a critical decision: does he just walk away from getting an ace? This is not a potential ace; Peavy is an ace right now. He’s a legit number one starting pitcher. Wren is obviously being very careful with his prospects, much to the delight of most Braves fans.
He’s trying to get that ace without giving up one of his top five or six prospects. That’s not an easy thing to do. Most teams would tell him to forget it, and heck maybe that’s exactly what the Padres have done. But if San Diego is, in fact, serious about trading Peavy, where is their market to have this much leverage?
Peavy has pinpointed only a few teams that he would agree to be traded to, but that has been narrowed down to the Braves and the Cubs. Even Lou Piniella downplayed his club’s involvement in the Peavy sweepstakes. So who else is there to make a play for Peavy?
The Braves are the one with the leverage. They’ve obviously told Kevin Towers, ‘look we don’t think you’re going to get a major league put on the table for Peavy better than Yunel Escobar. If you do, let us know.’ But it obviously is still not enough to get the Padres to move on the trade.
So when will Frank Wren call Towers’ bluff? When will he give the Padres a deadline? Is it necessary to have a deadline, or should he just quietly move on and pursue other pitchers.
Again, we’re talking about an ace. Walking away from possibly getting an ace is not an easy thing to do. But now that the free agency period has begun, other decisions have to be made – decisions that will impact the course of the strategy this team has planned out for this offseason.
The Braves will undoubtedly make offers to several free agent pitchers today, including right-hander A.J. Burnett. But it’s unlikely they will want to bring in two free agent pitchers. The goal will still be to get one pitcher through a trade.
But if Peavy is off the table, who else is out there? Matt Cain? Unlikely. The package would probably have to be much better than what was even offered for Peavy. Roy Halladay? Doubtful. The Blue Jays don’t sound like they want to move him.
Aaron Harang of the Reds has been talked about a great deal on the message boards, and he is tempting. But while Harang does have a decent contract and was effective before he got a dose of Dusty Baker-itus, does he fit that role of being a potential ace?
There is one pitcher that just might: Zach Greinke of the Kansas City Royals. He’s 25 years old. He’s under contract for two more years. He just showed in 2008 why most believe he’s a potential Cy Young candidate. And he just might be available.
Rumors have lingered that Greinke will not sign a long-term deal with the Royals. Remember, he walked away from them a few years ago when he was sick of losing. It would be easier for the Royals to trade him this winter, with two years left on his contract, compared to waiting until next offseason. This is their best time to get some value for him.
The Royals need better position players. The Braves have some available, and not many people know the Braves personnel better than Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, who was an assistant to John Schuerholz before leaving for the Royals.
The Braves can fill Kansas City’s needs with one trade. Mike Aviles is reportedly being moved to second base, creating a need for a shortstop. Seems like the Braves were ready to trade a shortstop to San Diego in the Peavy deal. Maybe Yunel Escobar would be a good centerpiece to get Greinke.
The Royals need outfield help, and the Braves floated Gorkys Hernandez and Jordan Schafer at the Padres in the Peavy talks. Looks like they could need a catcher, preferably one that could hit for power. Maybe the Braves could give Kansas City a big kid making a name for himself in the Arizona Fall League. Maybe Tyler Flowers would interest them.
There may be a need to replace Greinke’s innings in the Kansas City rotation, so maybe Charlie Morton or Jo Jo Reyes would fit. Yes, neither have the ceiling that Greinke has, but they both have the talent to provide the Royals with quality innings.
And with Kansas City desperate for more young pitching, the Braves could certainly fill the need by providing a Jeff Locke-type, as was rumored in the Peavy trade.
The Royals simply need better personnel. They need talent. They need quality and quantity. And the Braves can provide that in a deal for Zach Greinke.
How much worse would the Braves be with Greinke compared to Jake Peavy? Well obviously Peavy has proven more in his big league career. Peavy would be an automatic ace, while Greinke would be a potential ace. But if the Peavy deal is just not going to happen, isn’t Greinke a pretty decent consolation prize?
Put Greinke with an A.J. Burnett and the Braves will still drastically improve the rotation. And put Greinke in the Braves’ environment and he could thrive. He was pretty good last year (13-10 in 32 starts with a 3.47 ERA), but Greinke’s still got a chance to be even better with more experience.
This Peavy thing has just run its course. We’re all kind of tired by now. We’ve waited and waited for some final word. We’ve refreshed our computers on various websites to see if there was any news. And now you wonder if it’s just not going to happen.
Frank Wren should give the Padres a deadline. Give Towers to the end of the weekend. And if a deal for Jake Peavy cannot be completed, he needs to call his old colleague Dayton Moore and go get Zach Greinke.
Bill Shanks hosts The Braves Show Talk Show, The Atlanta Baseball Show on 680 the Fan in Atlanta, and The Bill Shanks Show on SportsRadio 105.5 the Fan in Macon. He is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. You can email Bill at email@example.com.