Roy Halladay Sweepstakes, Part Three: Long-Shots and a Contender Ready To Pounce
In my initial installment of the Halladay Sweepstakes, I analyzed the major players competing for the potential acquisition of Toronto’s ace. Then, in my second piece, I took a look at the entire NL Central as possible landing spots for the coveted pitcher.
To complete the series, I’ll discuss teams that maybe aren’t currently considered viable trading partners with the Blue Jays but should at least entertain the thought of turning the tide in their respective divisions with a high impact acquisition.
New York Metropolitans
Decimated by injuries and awful fundamentals, the Mets just flat out haven’t been very good this season. Yet somehow, they’re still within striking distance of both the NL East and Wildcard.
The Mets were mentioned early on as potential suitors for Roy Halladay, but for some reason those rumors seemed to have cooled. Despite the Mets probably being the team that needs him the most simply to stay in contention, I just haven’t heard many people list the Mets among the potential top bidders in the Halladay auction.
Oliver Perez has been awful, Livan Hernandez is a workhorse but calling him a No. 4 pitcher is stretching it, and Johan Santana hasn’t been quite as unhittable as in previous seasons.
The Mets are going nowhere fast this season without a major shakeup to their rotation and/or everyday lineup. That’s where Halladay can step in and form a deadly front end combination with Santana to give the Mets a fighting chance.
As far as trade bait goes, the Mets have some pieces to offer, but their current stance regarding pitchers Brad Holt and Bobby Parnell as near untouchables has to be altered if they are to acquire a difference maker a la Halladay.
Fernando Martinez, the young outfielder who made his debut this season with mixed results, has long been the apple of Mets’ fans (and the organization’s) eye as the crown jewel of the farm system. Personally, I think he is overrated and overhyped by the New York media and fans, much like former Yankee top prospect Jose Tabata, who was traded to Pittsburgh in the Damaso Marte/Xavier Nady trade of 2008.
The Mets should have held onto speedster Carlos Gomez instead of F-Mart in the Santana deal two winters ago. John Maine or Mike Pelfrey, younger but more established players than any prospects, could be bargaining chips for a rotation upgrade, as could 2008 first round picks Reese Havens (SS) and Ike Davis (1B/OF), both of whom have underperformed at the plate since turning pro.
The problem the Mets face is selling low on their prospects after holding onto them throughout the peak of their hype, and thus having to overpay (in their opinion) to get a player like Halladay. This is true for Martinez, Nick Evans, and Jenrry Mejia (who has been battling injuries all year).
Trade Proposal: It will cost a ton for the Mets, and that’s assuming they can get Halladay to waive his no-trade clause to come to a floundering team on the brink of being out of contention.
Including Holt or Parnell is a must, and it may even take both to pry Halladay out of Canada. Reliever Eddie Kunz is an intriguing option for the Blue Jays to shore up their bullpen immediately, and could step right into a middle relief role. So perhaps Parnell, Kunz, and Pelfrey gets it done, but I don’t know if New York would pull the trigger on that, and Toronto can get a better package elsewhere.
The surprise contenders for the AL West were tossed around early on as a plausible destination for Halladay when Toronto first broke the news that they were open to trading him for the right deal. Many close to Halladay have speculated that he would be unlikely to approve a deal to the hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington, but there can’t be a trade clause waiver until a deal is agreed upon in the first place, so we’ll still count Texas as in the discussion.
The Rangers seemingly always need pitching and have a plethora of young talent available for trade, especially pitching. I’ll be the first to say I don’t think the Rangers should trade for Halladay if it involves trading any of their top five pitching prospects, all of which have frontline potential. Of course, those are the first players Toronto is likely to ask for in a deal.
Right-handers Neftali Perez, Michael Main, and Blake Beavan are all aggressive high-velocity hurlers with tons of upside. Southpaws Kasey Kiker, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland offer much of the same from the left side, though Holland is more of a finesse pitcher than Kiker.
Factor in young starter Josh Feldman, who has been impressive in his first full season in the rotation and former White Sox top prospect Brandon McCarthy, and the Rangers have a full stable of top notch arms. All of them should be ready for the majors by either 2010 or 2011 at the latest and that’s why I would argue against the Rangers trading any of them for Halladay now.
Positionally, shortstop Elvis Andrus has become one of the game’s best young shortstops in his first full year, and catchers Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are both MLB-caliber backstops.
Last year’s first rounder Justin Smoak draws comparisons to former Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira as a switch hitter, and outfielder Julio Borbon recently made his MLB debut.
The Rangers have one of the best farm systems in the league and have some exciting players and seasons to look forward to. It would be a shame to break up such a talented group of players but for the chance to make the playoffs.
Trade Proposal: A combination of Teagarden, Borbon, and any of those minor league pitchers should be more than enough to make the Blue Jays salivate and seriously consider trying to convince Halladay the Texas heat isn’t all that bad, but in the end I think Rangers management does the right thing for the franchise’s future and stays out of the trade talks.
Chicago White Sox
Some have included the ChiSox on the short list of favorites for Halladay, but I personally don’t see it that way (Of course, if he gets traded there I’ll quickly eat my words). Typically having one of the weaker farm systems in recent years, the White Sox would have to jettison what few valuable pieces they have left to acquire the ace’s services.
There’s no denying that Halladay would be an absolutely huge addition for the White Sox, who currently trot out the likes of Jose Contreras every fifth day. Pairing Halladay with Mark Buerhle would provide that one-two combo every team strives for, but it doesn’t seem feasible given the White Sox’s mediocre farm system.
The White Sox only have four young pitchers, in my opinion, worth acquiring in a package for Halladay. John Danks and Gavin Floyd, two of the better options already in the White Sox rotation, are younger and cheaper options over the next several years than Halladay would be.
Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard, two prospects who have debuted in the majors this year, are good but not on the same level as some other top tier prospects other clubs are likely to be offering for the Toronto ace.
With Alexei Ramirez and especially Gordon Beckham labeled as untouchable, the positional talent isn’t much to speak of either. Jordan Danks and John Shelby are toolsy outfielders and Cole Armstrong is a great defensive catcher but again, they simply don’t match up against other team's prospects.
Trade Proposal: For this to work, the White Sox would have to trade a minimum of two pitchers not to mention, an additional prospect, and maybe a bullpen arm.
From Toronto’s perspective, I’d ask for the brothers Danks, plus Shelby and Matt Thornton as a useful lefty to step into the role that was supposed to be filled by recently released BJ Ryan. Never rule White Sox GM Kenny Williams out of it, but I just can’t fathom this deal coming to fruition.
After getting swept by the Yankees this past weekend despite stellar pitching by Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, the Tigers perilously hold on to a slim 1.5 game lead over the aforementioned White Sox. Perhaps this series will serve as a wake-up call or at least open up internal discussions into making a big move.
So even though I’m including them in my “long-shots” article, that’s more a product of recent circumstance and the fact that I left them off my initial “favorites” list. While they’re probably best served getting another bat (especially a shortstop to play over the Adam Everett/Ramon Santiago duo), another starter to pair with Verlander, Jackson, and rookie Rick Porcello would go a long way towards locking up the AL Central title.
Nate Robertson was ineffective (7.71 ERA) out of the bullpen before landing on the DL, Jeremy Bonderman has only pitched one game all season, and Dontrelle Willis can no longer be counted on whatsoever, further establishing the Tigers’ need for one more dependable starter.
You can be sure that the Tigers would be a lot more confident down the stretch starting Halladay instead of recent experiments Lucas French and Alfredo Figaro. To solve their weak-hitting shortstop dilemma, the Tigers can simply try to get Toronto to include free-agent-to-be Marco Scutaro into the equation.
Complicating matters are recent reports that the Blue Jays are attempting to handcuff Vernon Wells and his ridiculous contract to any deal involving Halladay, but the Tigers are one team that could afford to take on that salary, simply by trading some back to the Blue Jays.
In the form of Dontrelle Willis or injured Carlos Guillen, the Detroit can alleviate some monetary space to take Wells off Toronto’s hands.
Who else would they trade? Let’s start with power-hitting corner infielder Jeff Larish, currently the Tigers No. 5 prospect who is blocked by Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge, could be part of a package that could include highly regarded outfielder Wilken Ramirez (who is blocked by Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, Josh Anderson, Clete Thomas, and potentially Wells).
There's also pitcher Cody Satterwhite, right-hander in AA, and second baseman Scott Sizemore (who could push Aaron Hill back to shortstop to solve the hole created in Toronto by Scutaro’s departure either in this trade or the off-season).
Trade Proposal: Guillen, Larish, Ramirez, Satterwhite, Sizemore, and reliever Joel Zumaya (who may have worn out his welcome in Detroit) could satisfy Toronto’s palate to the point of relinquishing Halladay, Scutaro and Wells.
Remember, the Blue Jays are trying to give Wells away, but would also be forfeiting any eventual draft pick compensation received from 2009 free agent Scutaro and 2010 free agent Halladay signing anywhere else. Detroit picks up those potential future draft picks plus the pitcher to put them on even footing with the Yankees and Red Sox for AL dominance, not to mentioned drastically improving their production at shortstop.
The prospects they give up are talented to be sure, but are all blocked by significantly better players who stand to stay in Detroit for a long time. Plus they can put Wells, an excellent defender, in right field and platoon whoever they want in left to improve their defense. This is probably the deal that makes the most sense for all the parties involved.
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