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08/05/09 12:42 PM ET

Peavy deal gives Padres future flexibility

Club foresees higher payroll, activity in free-agent market

SAN DIEGO -- The recent trade to the White Sox of pitcher Jake Peavy -- and the remaining $48 million guaranteed on his contract -- will ultimately result in a higher payroll and could lead the Padres to be more active in the free-agent market.

San Diego CEO Jeff Moorad told MLB.com this week that the trade of Peavy on Friday for four pitchers should eventually allow the organization to build its payroll from $43 million -- what it was on Opening Day -- to a much more competitive figure.

"Next season will now have to be re-evaluated given the Peavy deal," Moorad said. "I'm ultimately comfortable with a payroll in the $70-80 million [range], but it's likely that it will take us a couple years to get back to that level.

"The good news is we now have an opportunity to reconstruct the payroll in a careful, strategic way that allows for a continued focus and emphasis on scouting and player development."

The $43 million Opening Day payroll was the second-lowest in the Major Leagues. The Florida Marlins entered the season with a $37 million payroll.

General manager Kevin Towers said because of past budget constraints, the Padres haven't been a team that "goes into the free-agent market and does much." But that could change to some degree, Moorad said, though probably not to the extent of landing a big-ticket free agent.

"Free agency will have its place, but is unlikely to be a driver given the reality of our payroll," Moorad said. "I assume it will be used to fine-tune, rather than to craft our rosters going forward."

The Padres will head into the offseason not only having unloaded Peavy's contract but that of outfielder Brian Giles, a potential free agent who is making $9 million this season.

The most expensive contract on the books for 2010 will be the $6.25 million pitcher Chris Young will make. Two-time All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will make $4.75 million in 2010.

The Padres picked up four pitchers in the Peavy deal. Left-hander Clayton Richard won in his Padres debut on Saturday. Another left-hander, Aaron Poreda, gave up five runs in four innings for Triple-A Portland on Tuesday. Reliever Adam Russell tossed two scoreless innings in relief in that same game.

A fourth pitcher, Dexter Carter, allowed six runs in 3 1/3 innings for Class A Fort Wayne on Tuesday.

All told, the Padres added seven pitchers in two July trades, including three in the July 5 trade that sent outfielder Scott Hairston to the Oakland A's.

The composition of the 2010 Major League roster will likely include several of the seven pitchers obtained in the two deals. Sean Gallagher, who came over in the A's deal, is expected to contend for a spot in the starting rotation.

"Although we could have kept Jake on the roster next season, given the support our fan base has shown this year, even in the midst of a challenging season, [the fan base] deserves a retooled club sooner than later," Moorad said.

"The Peavy trade allows us flexibility that will be focused on putting the multiple pieces in place that will allow this club to succeed consistently going forward."

Moorad has been encouraged by the Padres' play of late, specifically that of several young players like outfielder Will Venable, who has four home runs in his past six games; outfielder/first baseman Kyle Blanks; and two other fellow rookies, pitcher Mat Latos and shortstop Everth Cabrera.

These young players figure to play key roles on the 2010 team.

"I've said all along that a primary goal of our ownership group is to put in place a core of young players, who are both affordable and controllable for a period of several years," Moorad said. "That core is coming into focus at this point. Latos, Blanks, and Cabrera are early indicators of the direction we'll continue in as we strive for successful, consistent performance on the field."

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