Padres finalize extension for Peavy
Two sides agreed upon $52 million deal at Winter Meetings
SAN DIEGO -- The element of surprise didn't figure to be present on Wednesday, when pitcher Jake Peavy's $52 million contract extension was officially announced, as the deal had essentially been agreed upon by both sides for nearly 10 days.
But Peavy, the National League Cy Young Award winner, managed to provide something of a shocker anyway, as the typically gregarious right-hander, who can bend an ear on any number of topics, suddenly was nearly rendered speechless.
"It's an incredible day. ... I don't have the words to describe it," Peavy said, staring into a row of television cameras while sitting next to Padres general manager Kevin Towers. "I'm at a loss for words."
The biggest contract in franchise history will tend to have a humbling effect, and it certainly did on the 26-year-old Peavy, who sounded generally appreciative for the contract, which will keep him in San Diego though the 2012 season and possibly 2013.
"I think it sends a great message to everybody in San Diego, and I think it's a great indicator of Jake's willingness to stay, of the Padres' commitment to keeping our core players," manager Bud Black said during the Winter Meetings in Nashville last week.
"He's obviously one of the best pitchers in the game, and to have him on board for ... another six years, another six seasons, it's great. And he's still [young], so he's got a lot of great pitching left ahead of him."
The funny thing is that Peavy wasn't so much humbled by the terms of the contract as he was the commitment of the only team he's ever known, something he wondered about aloud on his way to becoming the unanimous winner of the Cy Young Award last month.
"There were times when I wondered if I would be a Padre," he said.
Now he knows that he will be -- for a long time. Peavy is still under contract through the 2009 season. His extension will begin in 2010 with a $15 million salary that will be followed by $16 million in 2011 and $17 million in 2012.
If the Padres decline Peavy's $22 million option for 2013, he will receive a $4 million buyout.
Peavy's agent, Barry Axelrod, and Towers had been talking about a contract extension since the middle of last season. Those talks increased this offseason, particularly last month, before Peavy won the Cy Young Award.
It was on Dec. 2, the night Axelrod and Towers arrived in Nashville for the Winter Meetings, when they agreed to a deal in principle, pending a physical that was completed on Tuesday in San Diego.
"I don't think there was ever an obstacle," Towers said of the negotiations with Axelrod, who once served as his own agent. "It didn't take us long to figure where [Peavy] should be. ... There were no bumps in the road in the negotiations."
Peavy did have one stipulation, though. He wanted to make sure the deal was fair -- not just to himself, certainly, but to his peers.
"[That was] the big thing for me," he said. "I didn't want to do other players an injustice."
But Peavy's extension isn't entirely the "San Diego discount" as some might think it might be.
His average salary over the life of the contract is a guaranteed $17.3 million. That is behind the $18 million average Barry Zito is receiving from the Giants and even farther behind the $18.3 million that Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano is getting.
"We think that given his youth and what he's accomplished, there's a lot left," said Padres CEO Sandy Alderson of Peavy. "Jake is one of ours. From my standpoint, there's always a preference to keep your own players."
Peavy is certainly coming off a benchmark year, one in which he led the NL in victories (19), strikeouts (240) and ERA (2.54). He is 76-51 with a 3.31 ERA in his career, and he owns two ERA titles (2.27 in 2004) and two strikeout titles (216 in 2005).
"I don't think we've seen the tip of the iceberg yet," Towers said. "To know he's going to be the ace of our staff is huge.
"All you have to do is talk to opposing managers ... guys like [Atlanta's] Bobby Cox and [St. Louis'] Tony La Russa, and how they talk about the one guy they want to miss when the face the Padres is Jake Peavy."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.