LAS VEGAS - The news broke Thursday morning that a Cubs deal with the San Diego Padres for pitcher Jake Peavy was dead, at least for now.
But Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said he made his decision Wednesday night. And that decision was based on one thing: The price for Peavy was too high.
So Hendry informed Padres GM Kevin Towers that he would not pursue a trade that would include the Cubs losing several young players, most likely including major-league pitcher Sean Marshall and third-base prospect Josh Vitters.
"I spent some time by myself," Hendry said. "I tried to sort it all out. I looked at the whole amount of variables over four years. I finally felt that I didn't think Kevin would lower the demands of the volume."
Not only did Hendry factor in the players it would take to get Peavy and make the four years and $63 million Peavy has left on his deal worth it, but he also said the Cubs would have to spend more money to replace some of the players traded.
"He said he's got other things going on," Towers told the San Diego media. "I respect his position."
One veteran player believed to be leaving the Cubs as part of a three-way deal involving either the Phillies or Twins was infielder-outfielder Mark DeRosa.
"I think the world of the pitcher," Hendry said of Peavy. "Tremendous. He would have made us better, but we were dealing from strength all along. We have a very, very good rotation, a rotation that's pretty much intact from the end of last year, with 97 wins and a lot of guys winning more than 15 games."
Of course, Hendry will never say never. If sometime down the road more favorable terms present themselves, Hendry no doubt will look into it, whether it's later this winter or during the 2009 season.
"He's a great pitcher," Hendry said. "I would never close the door on trying to acquire him if we had the need or the ability to do so."
Hendry denied Thursday's move was "posturing" or some kind of ploy to get Towers to drop his demands. The Padres have to dump salary, and Towers appears to have little leverage despite his proclamation earlier this week that there would have to be progress by Thursday or the deal would be off.
"I have a good relationship with Kevin," Hendry said. "Kevin never gave me any indication that he had to do it. From the first conversation we had in California (at the GM meetings), if Kevin Towers had told me we were the only team involved and he was definitely going to move him, I think I would have treated Kevin and the Padres with the respect of trying to give them what I thought was a good deal for them, too.
"That's the way we operate. I don't try to 'win' deals. They're going through some tough times. You should get good players for Jake Peavy. If we had made the deal, I would want those guys to work out for Kevin."
The pursuit of Peavy took several twists and turns. It began last month at the GM meetings. But when the Cubs re-signed ace pitcher Ryan Dempster shortly after that, it made Peavy more of a luxury than a necessity.
Hendry came to the winter meetings in search of a left-handed hitter, but the Peavy talks dominated this week.
"Nothing changes," he said of still trying to sign an outfielder. "We didn't get off the plane and say, 'This is Jake Peavy week.' Nothing's changed."
Earlier this week, it appeared that one sticking point was the Padres not wanting to take pitcher Jason Marquis and his $9.875 million for 2009 from the Cubs. It looked for a while that the Phillies might be able to facilitate a deal, in part because of their desire for DeRosa and the fact they had young players to send to San Diego.
In the end, it didn't work out, but Hendry said he's happy with a starting rotation that features Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Harden and either Marquis or Sean Marshall.
"It was just one of those rare occasions that we thought it was worth trying to go in and kick the tires and see if it was possible," Hendry said. "Or, how can we make it work if we can do it? As the week progressed, the volume of the depth we had to give up became the sticking point for me.
"Out of respect to the player, he was worth looking into."