Dealing Peavy could help needy Padres

The Padres lost 99 games and finished last in the National League West, the worst division in baseball, this past season, and now they want to lower the payroll and trade Jake Peavy. Muddling matters, team owner John Moores and his wife, Becky, are divorcing, and he reportedly will try to sell 49 percent of the team as part of the settlement.

The Padres have nosedived since winning back-to-back division crowns in 2005 and 2006 and are showing no signs that an upsurge is on the horizon.

Primary needs

The Padres need more starting pitching, another hitter in the outfield, depth in the middle infield, a backup to catcher Nick Hundley and a rebuilt bullpen -- with or without Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, who is 41 and a free agent.

In one season, the Padres' relief corps went from the best in the NL to 13th. Especially bad was the middle relief -- in the sixth and seventh innings, the Padres were outscored by 68 runs.

Free agents

RHP Hoffman, C Michael Barrett, C Josh Bard, LHP Shawn Estes, RHP Mark Prior, OF Chip Ambres

Don't look for any big splashes on the open market. Hoffman, a Padre since 1993, wants another year in San Diego and could be re-signed, although his ERA has risen each of the past two seasons while his saves total has dipped. He made $7.5 million in 2008 and, after a rough start, saved 30 games in 34 attempts and posted a 3.77 ERA.


Trade bait

Everyone is expendable, and Peavy is the biggie. He has full no-trade power but said he'd waive it to go to the Braves, Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals or Astros. He's in his prime at age 27. He was the Cy Young Award winner in 2007. But he's owed $43 million over the next three years, and the Padres could fill multiple holes with a chip like Peavy. GM Kevin Towers said he wants a starting pitcher and a middle infielder, for starters.

Shortstop Khalil Greene hit 27 homers and 44 doubles in 2007, but his trade value shrunk after he hit .213 with 100 K's in 389 at-bats in 2008, finishing the season rehabbing a broken hand.

Farm aid

First baseman Kyle Banks, 22, had a big season in Double-A, hitting .325 with 20 homers and 107 RBIs, and Triple-A is next, but it's questionable whether his future is as a Padre because of Adrian Gonzalez.


After the season, the Padres announced they would retain manager Bud Black and were leaning toward picking up Brian Giles' $9 million option rather than exercising his $3 million buyout. Giles, who will turn 38 in January, had a .398 on-base percentage on a team that ranked last in the majors (.317) in 2008.

The Padres again are considering moving in the fence in right field, which would thrill the left-handed-hiting Gonzalez, who hit only 14 of his 36 homers in 2008 at Petco Park.

John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.