With the latest statement from Roy Halladay’s agent that the star pitcher wants to be traded before the season starts or not at all, the Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in the uncomfortable position of dealing the face of the franchise, or risk losing him for nothing at all. Halladay has been a consummate professional during his tenure in Toronto but the 12-year veteran wants the chance to play for a World Series caliber team, and that’s not going to happen north of the border. Worse yet, the Blue Jays be may forced to send their ace to a division foe like Boston or New York, two teams with payrolls large enough to accomodate the giant contract that Halladay will receive after his deal ends in 2010. Toronto has been to this dance before, dangling Halladay at last season’s trade deadline only to nix a deal with Philadelphia at the last minute. Now though, the Blue Jays are running out of time to make a decision that could shape their franchise for the next decade.
Roy Halladay has arguably been baseball’s most consistent and durable pitcher since a line drive ended his 2005 season. In the past four years Toronto’s staff ace has won at least 16 games every season to go along with a sub 3.70 ERA and at least 200 innings pitched. At only 32-years-old, Halladay could anchor a pitching staff for the next half decade or more, and his ability to go deep into ballgames takes pressure off the entire pitching staff. Though his increased workload may scare off some suitors, “Doc” has pitched the best baseball of his career the last two seasons (2008: 20-11, 2.78 ERA, 206 K’s; 2009: 17-10, 2.79 ERA, 208 K’s) and his work ethic and off-season conditioning are nearly unparalleled. While Toronto might not be the biggest market in baseball, Halladay proved that he could pitch under a spotlight last season, refusing to let the month-long media frenzy surrounding him affect his pitching. Players like Halladay don’t come along often and teams will likely be stumbling over themselves to sign him if the Blue Jays can’t move him before Opening Day. With a miniscule chance of Halladay resigning after 2010 Toronto has no choice except trading their best player, but to whom?
The most obvious destinations are Boston, New York, Los Angeles (Dodgers and Angels) or Philadelphia. Halladay has a full no-trade clause in his current contract that would allow him to veto any deal the Blue Jays made; the teams listed above are supposedly on Halladay’s short list of organizations he would consider moving to. The Yankees are always a threat to land a big name like Halladay, but the organization is looking to trim it’s payroll and would be hesistant to part with youngsters Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain (much like they were with the Johan Santana trade). The Red Sox might be looking to make a splash after the arch-rival Yankees captured last year’s World Series, though they have to consider whether trading away players like Clay Bucholz, Daniel Bard and Jed Lowrie is worth what might amount to a one-year rental of Halladay. The Dodgers don’t have the money after the messy divorce of their owner Frank McCourt, but the Angels might become a major player if their are unable to resign free-agent Jon Lackey (though they have shown a reluctance to part with top prospects in the past). It’s difficult to believe the Phillies will actively pursue Halladay after getting burned by the Blue Jays at last year’s trade deadline, but anything is possible when a player of Halladay’s caliber is available.
Toronto has been an afterthought in the AL East for the past decade and trading away their best player certainly won’t vault them to the top of the division, but they’ve backed themselves into a corner and have to act fast in order to gain maximum value for Halladay. They won’t receive as much in a trade for him as they would have in July, but if Halladay stays with the team they will remain a mediocre ballclub in 2010 and then have nothing to show for him except for a couple of compensation picks in the 2011 draft (which are never a sure thing). In baseball’s highstakes free agent market he who hesitates is lost, and the Toronto Blue Jays are dangerously close to giving away the game’s best pitcher for pennies on the dollar.
Filed under: AL East, Baseball, Free Agency/Trades | Tagged: 2009/10 Free Agency, AL East, Boston Red Sox, Brian Cashman, Clay Bucholz, Daniel Bard, Frank McCourt, Jed Lowrie, joba chamberlain, Jon Lackey, L.A. Angels, L.A. Dodgers, New York Mets, New York Yankees, phil hughes, philadelphia phillies, Roy Halladay, Texas Rangers, Theo Epstein, toronto blue jays |