Getting an early jump toward rebuilding their starting rotation, the Braves have already talked to the Padres to gain a sense of what it might take to acquire Peavy in what could potentially be this offseason's most significant trade.
One official who has knowledge of the early discussions said that the Braves are now essentially waiting for the Padres to make the next move. But with a number of other teams expected to show interest in the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner, there's a sense the Braves could be waiting for a while.
Padres GM Kevin Towers has said that he might trade Peavy if offered an enticing package of prospects who could help expedite his club's rebuilding process. The Braves are confident that they have the pieces to fill Towers' needs.
But in the early stages of the trade talks, the Braves aren't sure how many of these elite pieces they'd be willing to trade in exchange for Peavy, who seemingly provides the best value among the pitchers who will be available this offseason.
Another plus for the Braves is the fact that Peavy has told friends that he'd waive his no-trade clause to play in Atlanta, but the 27-year-old Alabama native obviously would also waive this clause to play elsewhere.
While hunting with Astros ace Roy Oswalt on Friday, Peavy told the Houston Chronicle that he'd be willing to pitch for the Astros next year.
"I think Houston would be one of the teams I would like to play for," Peavy told the Chronicle. "Obviously, I have a good friend in Roy, who pitches over there. Houston is one of those teams that makes a conscious effort to win every year."
An industry source responded to this by saying that the Astros don't have the depth in their Minor League system to make the same kind of offer to the Padres that the Braves could make.
With such attractive prospects as Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Tyler Flowers, Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen and Jordan Schafer, the Braves have the ability to put together a blockbuster package to land Peavy.
But right now they're obviously reluctant to put too many of those pieces in the same package. Thus it appears that they'll remain patient until it becomes apparent exactly what it would take to bring Peavy to Atlanta.
The appeal to acquire Peavy comes courtesy of both his performance and his attractive contract, which includes annual salaries of $17 million or less through the end of the 2012 season ($11 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010, $16 million in 2011, $17 million in 2012) and a $22 million option ($4 million buyout) for 2013.
Factoring in the buyout clause, Peavy would come in at an average annual cost of $15.75 million over the next four years. This is seemingly a bargain compared with what the Braves would have to pay to sign one of the top-flight pitchers on this year's free-agent market. The Brewers' CC Sabathia may gain an annual salary of $20 million-plus this winter and, simply because of demand, other free-agent pitchers, such as the Dodgers' Derek Lowe and the Cubs' Ryan Dempster, may command annual salaries in the neighborhood of $15 million.
Lowe and Dempster don't fit into the same elite category as Peavy, who has posted a 2.95 ERA since the start of the 2004 season. The only Major League starter (minimum 700 innings) who has posted a better ERA during this span is Johan Santana of the Mets, who is guaranteed $87.5 million over the next four years and $113 million over the next five years.
Though top prospects will need to be included, the Braves could improve this deal by offering the Padres second baseman Kelly Johnson or shortstop Yunel Escobar. Johnson became somewhat expendable with the emergence of Martin Prado.
As for the talented Escobar, the Braves may be willing to deal him if the Padres include Khalil Greene, who is set to make $6.5 million next year. Greene's inconsistencies became even more apparent when he hit .213 this year, but he hit at least 15 homers during each of the previous four seasons, with a career-high 27 home runs in 2007.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.