Wednesday, July 8

Hot Stove on Halladay

One day removed from Jays' manager J.P. Ricciardi's unexpected reversal on Roy Halladay, and the hot stove is definitely warming up. Ricciardi avowed earlier in the season that his ace righty was not on the market, but that was back when the Jays were the surprise leader in the AL East, before an injury outbreak dropped them down to fourth. Ricciardi, as every baseball fan now knows, said yesterday that the Jays were willing to "listen" to trade talks, though in order to move, he'd need to get a call from a "highly motivated" bidder with a package of young studs. Ricciardi's phone has no doubt been ringing ever since, and reports are starting to leak out about who, precisely, is the most "highly motivated" caller.

Word today is that the Phillies are the early favorite. They've been looking for what seems like months for a powerful righty to put at the top of the rotation next to the southpaw Cole Hammels. The Phillies, like everyone, love Halladay - particularly since they think he fits their ballpark, with a high ground-ball to fly-out ration (1.28 over 2009) and solid strike out numbers (the Phillies have a hitter-friendly home). The Phillies aren't as loaded with young talent as a few of the other teams, but the word is they may be willing to bet the farm on this trade. They feel that he could simply dominate the NL and make them a strong repeat contender.

After that comes the West Coast teams - the Angels, Giants, and Dodgers are all reported to be interested in Halladay. Again, these teams don't have the strongest farm systems, but likely could put together an appealing prospects package, with some decent young pitching going back to the Jays.

Then there are the longshots in our very own AL East. They've got the most talent, but, according to club sources, little inclination to part with it. Both the Yankees and the Sox have let it be known that they're not in active talks for Halladay---here in New York, Yanks officials have spent the day telling anyone who'd listen that there is absolutely no chance they make this trade. But, keep in mind, that's the Yankees talking. Never really the model of caution or consistency. A bad week in the Bronx, and it could certainly be an interesting All-Star break.

That really just leaves the Sox to discuss. The fact is, no one has the young talent - particularly the young arms - that the Sox have. The Jays have said they prefer not to deal within the division, but seem to have acknowledged that a team like the Sox (or possibly the Yankees) have the ability to make an offer they can't refuse.

From this perspective, I'd say it's highly unlikely the Sox or the Yanks get in on this action. Yes, Halladay is a proven AL East winner. Yes, he's under contract through 2010 at a relatively reasonable cost. And yes he'd likely approve a trade to either. But the Jays are reportedly looking for a package of 3 high quality prospects, possibly pushing to 4 depending on what kind of a bidding war they can ignite. You've got to think that's the last thing Cashman or Theo wants after years of work plowing those farms. It would, at the very least, cost them Hughes and Buchholz, respectively.

So we'll just have to wait and see. And I'm just gonna hope against hope that Halladay finds himself a nice comfortable home in the National League.

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