The New York Mets have announced they want in on the Jake Peavy sweepstakes. With that said, can the Mets really be considered a legitimate contender for his services? Before possible scenarios can be discussed, let’s take a look at what has happened so far. In stating his preference to stay in the National League, Peavy listed the Astros, Cubs, Cardinals, Braves, and Dodgers as his top choices, while hinting that the Yankees might be an option with some convincing. The Mets have expressed interest in Peavy as well and hope he will consider the organization as a legitimate option.
Peavy is under contract for the next five seasons through 2013, and, at 27, he will be under control through his prime. His salary is as follows:
2009 - $11 million
2010 - $15 million
2011 - $16 million
2012 - $17 million
2013 - $22 million option with $4 million buyout
Due to his age, career totals (3.25 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.96 K/9), and below market salary figures, the Padres will ask for as much, if not more than the Twins received for Johan Santana. The Padres initial asking price is a young center fielder and two close to big league ready starting pitchers. This piece explores possible trade scenarios and whether or not the Mets have what it takes to land the big one.
Trade possibilities are listed in order based which package best fills the Padres wish list while avoiding untouchable players, and best utilizing each organizations organizational depth.
1. Yankees - Austin Jackson, Philip Hughes, Ian Kennedy
Are the Yankees this desperate? Maybe. While I never recommend dealing low, the Yankees, in perpetual win now mode, are feeling pressure to make major changes this off season. Entering 2009, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, and Alfredo Aceves look like the three best bets currently under Yankee control to fill three of five available rotation slots should Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina both retire. Hughes/Kennedy/Jackson is a steep price, but adding Peavy to anchor the rotation makes a major statement. As for the Padres, they add a potential #1 or #2 in Hughes, #3 or #4 in Kennedy and a top-50 overall prospect in Austin Jackson. Quite a bit considering Hughes/Kennedy were untouchable at this time last year.
2. Dodgers - Matt Kemp, James McDonald, Scott Elbert
Kemp is easily the most accomplished player to appear in any offer. However, the Dodgers’ graduation of so many quality major league talents from prospect status over the past couple of years has yet to be replenished system-wide, limiting the organization’s options in trade talks. McDonald projects as a solid #3, while Elbert is a bit of a wild card—he’s an immense talent recovering from shoulder surgery, which caused him to only pitch 40 or so innings out of the bullpen. From the Padres’ perspective, adding a player with the raw tools of Matt Kemp is never a bad thing. However, the organization is dealing Peavy to spread more talent throughout, and this option might seem a little Kemp-heavy.
3. Braves - Jordan Schafer, Charlie Morton, Tommy Hanson
2008 was a disaster for Jordan Schafer, as he followed up a monster 2007 performance with a 50-game ban for HGH and less than expected numbers in Double-A prompting some to question whether his breakout was simply a product of cheating. Tommy Hanson just keeps dominating; he has followed up a dominating 2008 with a 0.00 ERA through three Arizona Fall League appearances. He currently projects as a #3 with some feeling he could peak as a little more. Morton’s season can be split into two parts: pre-MLB and post-MLB. In Triple-A, he posted a 2.05 ERA and .181 BAA en route to Atlanta. In Atlanta, his numbers took a nose dive to the tune of a 6.15 ERA and .273 BAA with a quality start every four or so trips to the mound. From all accounts, his problems have been mental and he’s only a dose of confidence away from being a productive major leaguer. As for the Padres, this deal would spread around the talent pretty equally, but likely would not produce any star-caliber talent.
4. Cardinals - Colby Rasmus, Jess Todd, Clayton Mortensen
A healthy Jaime Garcia would make this offer much more tempting. However, Garcia’s Tommy John surgery leaves him shelved for the entire 2009 season. The Cardinals have done a great job drafting replenishing what was once the worst minor league system in all of baseball. Adding Peavy is an opportunity to show the baseball world just how productive their system has been. Rasmus is a consensus top-10 overall prospect, and both Todd/Mortensen project as #3/4 types with some upside. For the Padres, Rasmus is easily the key to this deal. I can see a scenario where the Padres would need a fourth player included to get something done. Catcher Bryan Anderson or Outfielder John Jay could be options which would also fill organizational needs.
5. Cubs - Felix Pie, Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija
People forget Pie is still only 23 years old. He regressed some in 2008, but after a .362/.410/.563 2007, I might also be a little annoyed if my spot went to the decrepit Jim Edmonds. A change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered. Marshall is another player who just needs a shot. He’s a huge presence at six-foot-seven, and his sub 4.00 ERA the past two seasons means he is ready to take his rightful spot in a rotation somewhere. Despite his success, Samardzija as the third piece in this deal is about right. His performance has been up-and-down since his signing and he’s not a sure thing by any means. As with the Cardinals offer, the Cubs would likely need a fourth player to cement a deal like this, leaving the question of who that player might be. Would Tyler Colvin, Jose Ceda, or Donald Veal be enough to get it done? I’m not so sure.
6. Mets - Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell
Thin on overall talent and short on major league ready starters at higher levels, the Mets are a long shot to land the services of Jake Peavy. Adding Daniel Murphy to the mix would be a big addition, but the minor league system’s bones would really be picked clean. Martinez is hard to project in center field, but has a wealth of talent. Niese is a solid lefty with a third starter’s projection. Parnell is fringy as a starter, but could contribute in a number of roles. I can’t help but bring up the question of how much better this deal would look if Lastings Milledge could be entered into the equation. For the Padres, a fourth player is a must, especially since Martinez requires more seasoning in the minors. With Matt Antonelli bombing at Triple-A, Murphy would be at home as a second baseman in a division which does not value great defense from the position.
7. Astros - Hunter Pence, ???, ???
Next! I know Peavy wants to play there, but the Astros’ system is simply pathetic. It lacks anything and everything needed to land a player of Jake Peavy’s talent. Even if they centered the deal around Hunter Pence, there’s just not enough there.
The good news for the Mets is that the Dodgers and Yankees have not been making these types of moves in recent years, instead choosing to hoard their minor league talent. The Cubs and Cardinals have also been doing this to a lesser extent. The Braves were sodomized in their trade for Mark Teixeira in 2007 and may opt to avoid taking a huge risk with so many holes to fill at the big-league level. All this does give the Mets the opportunity to climb the ladder if truly motivated. However, the bad news remains that the organizations above them simply have more in the way of talent to offer should this truly become a bidding war.