Now that Roy Halladay confirmed last night at the All-Star festivities that he is, indeed, available and willing to be traded to a contender, the New York Yankees surely are a possible destination.
Widely considered the best pitcher in baseball (Derek Jeter said as much last night), Halladay has been seeking a trade to a contender to finally perform in meaningful games in August and September. Because Halladay is signed through 2010, a trade will give him two chances at the playoffs and a possible World Series.
According to many, including Jonathan Papelbon, a contender who secures Halladay's services will certainly be viewed as the favorite to win a World Series.
What if the contender is the Yankees? Because they are in the same division, reports have the Blue Jays needing more from either the Yankees or Boston Red Sox in a trade. The Jays want major league-ready players, not Single A-level prospects with hype.
Some Yankee fans want to give up the kitchen sink for Halladay. Names speculated concerning the Yankees needing to include Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes (maybe both), AAA-center fielder Austin Jackson, AA-catcher Jesus Montero, and current major league-relief pitcher Mark Melancon.
If I were the Jays, I would take that haul right now, but the Yankees would be stupid to make that type of deal as there is a crack in the trading armor of Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi.
Ricciardi has speculated that the winner of the Halladay sweepstakes might need to take the contract of Jays CF Vernon Wells. In December 2006, Ricciardi signed Wells to a seven-year, $140 million contract. Wells immediately declined in production after signing the deal. The contract is an anchor both in terms of dollars and distance.
If Ricciardi insists that a team (such as the Yankees) take on Wells' exorbitant contract, then it is very possible the team taking that contract will not have to pay another ransom in terms of young talent.
With Yankees GM Brian Cashman balking at paying up for Johan Santana a year and a half ago, I don't see him giving up big prospects for Halladay. Not that "Doc" isn't worth the dollar or prospect price. Overall he is much better than Santana, both in terms of pitching and temperament.
And I do not see the age being much of an issue either with Halladay. He is 32 now and unless he signs an extension, will be 34 when he comes up for free agency. His mechanics are perfect and he has not had a history of arm issues. He was on the DL in 2004 with shoulder soreness, but no problems since then. In terms of durability and style I rank him along with Derek Lowe, who is still going well at 36.
If Ricciardi insists on including Wells in the Halladay deal, the Yankees could be able to pull it off, as the excess money taken on will help save the oh-so-close-to-the-major league prospects in Jackson and Montero. No way a team can take on TWO big salaries (Halladay and Wells) and give up a boatload of prospects, especially with no guarantee that Halladay will be around after 2010. I originally thought that Halladay would be traded, but that feeling is receding quite rapidly.
And all the rivalry teams mentioned as possible suitors such as the Red Sox and Yankees, Phillies and Mets, Cardinals and Brewers, Dodgers and Giants, or Angels and Rangers would love to have Halladay, but don't necessarily NEED Halladay. All teams would probably be happy if he wasn't traded at all, especially to their closest rival.
With the Blue Jays owner dying over the winter, the Jays likely need to cut salary and Wells is the biggest salary to dump. That is why Halladay needs to be dealt. The Jays cannot afford Roy's new expected salary and Wells' monstrosity. You can throw in Alex Rios' under-performing contract, too, but Halladay is the biggest marketable commodity.
The Yankees (or any team) should remove players from the table if Wells is included. The Blue Jays have no leverage in that type of situation, a situation the other teams can exploit by pulling back some of their prospects.