Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

January 2009 Archives

After right-hander Aaron Heilman was acquired from the Seattle Mariners for infielder Ronny Cedeno and left-hander Garrett Olson on Wednesday, talk suddenly turned to Jake Peavy.

The San Diego Padres were known to have strong interest in Olson before the Cubs acquired him on Jan. 18 in the Felix Pie deal and there was a feeling that landing Olson was a step toward getting Peavy.

''We've had no talks about Jake Peavy since they were well documented during the winter meetings,'' said Cubs assistant general manager Randy Bush, who was speaking for the team as general manager Jim Hendry returns from a trip to Italy. ''I don't anticipate anything happening with that.''

Sources say the Cubs won't even entertain the idea of renewing talks on Peavy until their ownership situation is settled -- and that's not expected to happen until late March at the earliest.

The Padres were known to have interest in Olson, but a Peavy deal would still be built around the Cubs sending third base prospect Josh Vitters and a batch of young pitching talent to San Diego.

Though left-hander Sean Marshall appears to have the inside track for the fifth spot in manager Lou Piniella's rotation, Heilman and right-handed reliever Chad Gaudin will enter camp battling for the job. Heilman, 30, hasn't been a starter since making seven starts -- out of 53 appearances -- for the Mets in 2005. He has made 25 starts in his career, going 5-13 with a 5.93 ERA. In 280 relief outings, he's 17-20 with a 3.52 ERA.

Heilman, a Notre Dame graduate who makes his offseason home in Chicago, struggled as a late-inning reliever for the Mets last season, going 3-8 with a 5.21 ERA. Still, this isn't the first time Hendry made a run at Heilman.

''He's somebody we've had on our radar for a while,'' Bush said. ''We really like his versatility.''

The Cubs' offseason makeover will continue this week, with the club nearing agreement on a one-year, $750,000 contract with backup catcher Paul Bako. Left-hander Rich Hill -- who like Cedeno and Pie is out of options -- is also expected to be traded before camp opens on Feb. 14.

Poised for Peavy?

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The Cubs Convention opened with talk of the 2009 payroll being filled and Jim Hendry looking for a modest-level fifth-starter type to fill out his rotation. But when it ended with the trade of Felix Pie to the Orioles for the pitcher - Garrett Olson - who Kevin Towers was steering toward San Diego as part if a three-team Jake Peavy deal, the Peavy blip on the Chicago radar was beeping again.

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