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Padres' plans being put on hold

Padres' plans being put on hold

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SAN DIEGO -- The lack of progress in a deal involving pitcher Jake Peavy has had a significant effect on the Padres' ability to address their other roster needs this offseason.

And for a team coming off a 99-loss season in 2008, there are several areas that need to be filled, as general manager Kevin Towers wants to add starting pitching, relief pitching and shore up his bench for 2009.

But not knowing if the team can or will move Peavy and his $11 million contract for 2009 has all but left Towers in a standby mode until the future of the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner is decided.

"That's pretty much it," Towers said. "It's certainly a large sum of money we would be moving. Once that's decided, we will have a better idea of what holes we would be plugging."

If the Padres decide not to move Peavy in a deal -- Towers said late last week no deal is imminent -- then the 27-year-old will be the highest-paid player on a team that is looking at a dramatically-reduced payroll in 2009.

To date, the Padres and Braves have had extensive talks, but Atlanta GM Frank Wren indicated a week ago that the Braves were moving on. Still, Towers said the two sides had agreed upon at least part of the compensation package, and that he wouldn't rule out future talks with the Braves.

While the Padres haven't publicly committed to an official payroll total for 2009, it's expected to be in the range of $50 million, perhaps lower. The payroll in 2008 was $73.6 million.

Towers has said that he wants some starting pitching in return for Peavy, and he certainly would not turn his back on Major League-ready relief help to assist a bullpen that struggled mightily in 2008 and will likely be without closer Trevor Hoffman, who is a free agent and is not expected to return.

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"It's more pitching than position players," Towers said of what he would be looking for in the event the Padres get permission to trade Peavy, who has a no-trade clause.

Towers, who has built a reputation around baseball for being able to put together a formidable bullpen on a shoestring budget, might have to do so again. He said that he hopes to find "some bargains" among the relievers on the free-agent market or through trades.

The Padres would certainly need a Major League-ready starting pitcher in return for Peavy, as only Chris Young and Cha Seung Baek are certainties in the rotation. Towers would also like to add a veteran catcher to mentor rookie Nick Hundley.

Brad Ausmus, who makes his offseason home in Del Mar, is a possibility.

But until there's a resolution with Peavy, Towers said, it will be hard to move forward with trying to improve the team this offseason.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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