What is Peavy Worth on the Trade Market?

The San Diego Padres appear to be making it widely known that they plan to trade their ace Jake Peavy. Peavy is one of the most valuable pitchers in baseball. He pitches well, he pitches a lot, and he’s just entering his prime. For these reasons, the Padres signed Peavy to an extension less than a year ago. The new contract locks Peavy up for the next four seasons at a total price of $60 million ($15 million/year). There is also a $22 million team option for a fifth year.

My model estimates that he will be worth a total of $72 million ($18 million/year) over the next four seasons. His projected value for the optional fifth season is equal to the $22 million salary that would be owed to him. Thus, he will generate approximately $3 million more than he costs per year for the next four years. Also relevant is the fact that Peavy did spend some time on the DL this year with a “sore elbow.” Though an MRI revealed no problem, and he pitched fine after the DL stint, teams may be wary of a future injury. If we view Peavy as a financial asset, we can ponder what Peavy might bring in return on the trade market.

$3 million a year doesn’t buy a lot of major-league talent. That buys a decent reliever or a bench player. But it does buy is potential major-league talent with a high upside. For every Evan Longoria there are several Andy Martes. I suspect that the Padres are trading Peavy because they don’t see winning in the near future—though, strangely, the Padres are going to offer a contract to Trevor Hoffman—so I expect the Pads are looking for a prospect.

What kind of prospect can you get for $3 million a year for four years? That is a question that I am investigating right now. I am in the early stages of finding an answer, but from what I can tell from what I’ve done so far is that the expected value of even the best low-level prospects is low. Thus, I think Peavy’s contract will yield sufficient return to generate a top-tier prospect.

There has been much speculation about the possibility of Peavy landing with the Braves. However, I don’t think this will happen unless the Braves part with Jason Heyward, Tommy Hanson, or Jordan Schafer. And even one of these guys might not be enough. (For those of you who are high on Freddie Freeman, call me when he puts up some decent numbers above Low-A ball.) Frank Wren has stated that Hanson and Heyward are off limits. I don’t know what to think of Schafer, but apparently the Braves don’t have him on the public no-trade list.

Another possibility is Kelly Johnson. He has three more arbitration years left, which would give some value to the Padres. But, I don’t know enough about San Diego’s situation to know if they could use him. And then we have to wonder when the Padres think they’ll be competitive again and how much cash they want to free up. If they think they can contend in 2010 and just want a few more dollars to shore up some other areas of the team, then a Peavy-for-Johnson swap might work.

Anyway, I really don’t like to speculate about potential trades because there are too many unknowns involved. But, I think it is unlikely that the Braves get Peavy without giving up Heyward or Hanson. The main point of this post was to assess what Peavy is worth to the Padres, and I think his contract is good enough to net a top prospect.

14 Responses “What is Peavy Worth on the Trade Market?”

  1. Jason S. says:

    My gut feeling is that the Braves are too salary shy to take on Peavy’s contract and that more than who they’d have to give up will mean that he won’t come here.  I see the Braves more in the market for 1 or 2 pitchers at $10 million a year each.  Not established pitchers but young guys with some upside and risks who might be worth a gamble that they will improve.  It would be nice to be wrong, but I just don’t see the Braves bringing in any established (and costly) arms in the off-season.

  2. Ron E. says:

    If the Braves can get Peavy by giving up a minor league pitching prospect  or two, they should jump at the chance. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last 2 decades, it’s that pitching prospects flame out far more often than they become the next John Smoltz or Tom Glavine. If the Braves could acquire Peavy by trade, that would almost by itself set their rotation with Hudson coming back in late August and probably resigning Smoltz if he can prove he can still pitch. Then they could use the remainder of their money to fix the outfield.

  3. JS says:

    I’m not sure the Braves would be willing to do what it will take to get him.  I can imagine the prospects would be Shaefer/Jones, Hanson, Lillibridge/Hicks, and Medlan/Rogers.  The Orioles got about that much for Eric Bedard who had a longer injury history and less of a record of success.  Maybe Bavasi was more desperate than Wren.

  4. I would hate to see Peavy traded. He’s been one of the bright spots of the Padres for the last few years. You won’t find a more dominant pitcher in the NL.

  5. Darin H says:

    I’d trade Kelly Johnson for Peavy! In a heartbeat. Can we throw in Frenchy too? Please??? Maybe a low prospect for them taking Frenchy off of our hands.

  6. pdk1763 says:

    The Padres are simply putting out feelers for Peavy at this point.  As you mention he certainly has a small degree of question relating to his latest injury during the ’08 season.  There are several teams that could use Peavy who are contenders now – i.e. – Milwaukee, who will be losing Sheets and most likley Sabathia – that could offer the Padres a decent package of players such as Mat Gamel – 3B & Rickie Weeks – 2B.  I would suspect he would go to a team outside of the NL West and probably prefer to stay in the NL.  I do not recall if he has a no trade or limited trade clause in his new deal.  As for the Braves acquiring him, it would be sweet.  Several years ago, John Schuerholz pulled off a great deal for the Braves with the Padres when the Braves acquired McGriff at the deadline and the rest they say is history.  I say, look for Peavy to stay in San Diego for another season as the Padres need a frontliner to pull in the fans at least 1 out of 5 games.

  7. jfish26101 says:

    MLBTradeRumors.com has had a few posts about this over the last couple of days.  I suspected Hanson/Schafer/Lillibridge to start with possibly 2 more prospects depending on how low Schafer’s and Lillibridge’s stock are.  My biggest problem is will getting Peavy improve our changes that much to pull another deal similar to the Tex trade?  We can’t count on Smoltz, Glavine, Hampton or even Huddy to be healthy.  Will KJ break out?  Will Frenchy bounce back?  Can McCann play in 145 games again?  Can Chipper play in 130 games again?  Maybe it’s the pessimist in me that says dealing Peavy for 4 or 5 prosepcts wont improve out situation enough to put us above the Phillies/Mets but I really am having a hard time justifying giving up much more than Hanson/Schafer/Lillibridge and one other player.

  8. JC says:

    The problem with moving Kelly Johnson is that you lose one of your better players who can play now.   If the Braves are serious about winning next year, then they are going to have to deal prospects.

  9. Ron E. says:

    Hanson/Francoeur/Lillibridge would work for me. ;) You could even throw in one of Blanco and Anderson.

  10. Jason S. says:

    A San Diego newspaper reported today that Peavy will accept a trade only to a National League club and he listed 5 cities he would go to – Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and St. Louis.  I’m still not sure that the Braves would take on his salary, but I also still would like to be wrong about that.

  11. JC says:

    The Braves supposedly have $40 million to spend. If the team isn’t willing to take on Peavy’s contract (which is below the going market rate) then they should just give up. But to be honest, the willingness to spend money actually scares me more than excites me. I remember when the Charlotte Hornets promised the fans they would sign a big-name forward in the offseason. Everyone anticipated Danny Manning or Horace Grant; instead, the team ended up with a 40-year-old Robert Parish.

    If the Braves leave their prospects in the minors and don’t spend the money, I will be somewhat pleased. If they sign a bunch of marginal free agents and promote the kids, then I’m going to be disappointed. I’m OK with trading Heyward for Becket: but, just PLEASE, don’t sign Robert Parish.

  12. Matt says:

    The Cardinals could land him with the prospects they have.  A rasmus/perez/Todd/anderson would get the job done.  The padres could also include kahli greene in the deal allowing them to dump even more salary.   I dont know if the front office would give these guys  though.  They have been preaching about building from within.  If you are the GM you have to ponder having Peavy/Wainwright/lohse as your core.  If Carpenter can come back from his injury it would be the best staff in the majors. 

  13. themarksmith says:

    You believe in Heyward but not Freeman? They were both in the same league at the same time at the same age, and Freeman’s stats were as good if not better.

  14. JC says:

    Stats below A+ ball are virtually useless. He had a good year in Rome, but he was horrible in rookie ball.

    Freeman might be good, but until players put up numbers in A+ and higher, I don’t put much stock in their stats. I defer to ocular scouting at this level, and Heyward and Freeman are in different categories as prospects.