The Braves currently have the leverage in the Jake Peavy trade negotiations. They are probably the only real suitor, among the limited, for his services. The Braves do not need to panic as soon as one free agent starter signs. While Dempster eliminated himself from the Braves, the Cubs practically eliminated themselves from Peavy. (I know they said they might still pursue Peavy even after signing Dempster, but why would they spend the money *and* prospects on another star starter and not on their hometown boy Kerry Wood?) The Braves will continue to have all the leverage until after all the big name free agent starters disappear with the Braves standing there empty handed.
Towers may look dumb now but I think he's being realistic. The Braves need two starters - they even admit it. How hard is it to find *one* quality starter, let alone "*two*? Towers probably knows that the chances of the Braves getting two quality starting pitchers not named Jake Peavy is very small. But, that still doesn't take away from their pressing need to trade him with only a limited amount of suitors. I do not think that Peavy is going to expand his teams much further - he might if that team extends his contract to Sabathia money, but we saw last year that only one team was willing to spend the record money and prospects with Johan Santana. The Twins were forced to take a smaller package then they visioned - that's what happens when a player has team by the balls.
The Padres probably need to trade Peavy more than the Braves need to trade for Peavy - even if the Braves are still starting pitcher-less and desperate. I'm sure it's easier to explain to your boss why your team lost 90 games than it is to explain to your boss why you failed to decrease payroll by $20 or so million. Let's be honest for a second: the Braves will need to add several key pieces to seriously contend next year. If they Braves lose out on all those free agent pitchers, which they need *two* of, the Padres still are only offering only *one* starting pitcher. Peavy alone will not help the Braves compete next year, so if they lose out on all the other free agents then I think the need to trade for Peavy actually decreases. It wouldn't make much sense trading for Peavy now for hopes of 2010, unless another club trades for him he's not going anywhere - which seems to be unlikely, we'd have to pay his salary for a non-contending year, give up prospects who could have better value in a year, Peavy could be an entirely different health risk in a year, and our need for starting pitching might not be so glaring as it is now if some players find their groove.
Peavy signed his below market contract because he was happy and wanted to keep winning in San Diego. Well, now they want to trade him - he's obviously unhappy, and they're not going to win anytime soon. If you love your company so much that you agree to take a salary cut to stay with them, but then afterwards they want to send you somewhere else, are you going to be happy and play along? I'd assume that Peavy would make this as difficult for them as possible - and rightfully so. He signed a contract to stay with San Diego. If they wanted to move me, I'd be very particular of where I was willing to go and not lenient at all - especially since I gave up free agency and took a pay cut to stay. This continues to put the Padres at a disadvantage.
The Braves shouldn't panic about Peavy going anywhere - the Braves still have the leverage and the best prospects. A good GM would call up the Braves and ask if they can beat a current offer that will send Peavy elsewhere - but right now it's hard to determine if Towers is being a good GM. If the Braves want *two* quality starting pitchers, they will have to sign Burnett, Lowe, Sheets, or Sabathia pretty quickly. That would definitely frighten Towers and continue to give the Braves leverage throughout the offseason.
The Braves need to sign AJ Burnett. I think if the Braves signed Burnett, it would increase their chances of getting Peavy. In Burnett's past deal, he could opt out after so many years. Give that to him again or give him that fifth year as a player option - maybe even an evergreen clause. I get it, he's injury prone - but he seems to turn it up a notch when he's approaching free agency so this deal could potentially make him a better player in theory.
If the Braves signed Burnett, it could potentially make Towers panic and accept our previous Escobar, Gorkys, Morton or Reyes, Boyer or Low-A prospect package - or even less. That would allow us to pursue Furcal even harder - a health risk still too enticing not to take. If these scenarios happen and the dominoes continue to fall, we could still trade Kelly Johnson for Ryan Ludwick - assuming that's a real option - since we wouldn't be downgrading at both middle infield positions anymore.. So there you have it, we've upgraded at short, acquired our two starting pitchers and outfield bat, spent around $40 million - our budget, and got the leadoff hitter we've been missing since Furcal left.