The Halladay Special

Right Field BleachersCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

A couple days ago, I said the signs coming from the Brewers front office indicated the flirtation with the Blue Jays front office regarding Roy Halladay appeared to be more than just a passing interest (POST).

Today, it looks like I was right. Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman has reported that the Brewers are a “serious threat” to get Toronto’s ace in a trade.

He went on to call the Brewers a “serious player” and stated they were “aggressive” in their pursuit of the talented righty. Heyman even quoted one “Brewers person” (wow, that’s vague…) as saying, “We’re going to be aggressive,” and spoke with two executives from other teams that said GM Doug Melvin has what it takes to get a deal done.

The part of the article that stuck out to me though is that Heyman seems to believe lefty starter Manny Parra would be part of any swap between the clubs. I just can’t see that happening.

First of all, the Brewers are considering a trade for Halladay because of their dreadful starting pitching depth. Including Parra in the trade would improve the front end of the rotation significantly, but they’d still have to start Mike Burns or another replacement pitcher until Dave Bush, who is still weeks away from returning, comes back from injury.

The effect would almost be a wash. The team would likely win most of the games Halladay starts and lose most of the games their fifth pitcher starts. Even with Halladay, the Brewers would have to bank on Parra and his recent improvements to help them make the postseason. They can’t deal him away.

Secondly, looking beyond this season, Parra is a 26-year-old starter that the Brewers control for something like five more seasons. Yes, he’s struggled at times, but the reason Brewers fans have been so frustrated with his production is we can all see how much raw talent he has.

His ceiling is at least a No. 2 pitcher, perhaps higher. It’s no shock he’s appealing to the Blue Jays despite his struggles. But the Brewers are starved for pitching in the majors and have very little in the way of pitching in the higher levels of the minors.

Can they really afford to deal a young starter that’s already contributing on the big-league team? I just don’t see it happening…

When you consider the other names Heyman mentioned as trade targets for the Blue Jays in the article—prospects Alcides Escobar, Mat Gamel and Brett Lawriethe trade just becomes too much to stomach.

One of those three top prospects as part of a package would be one thing (though I’ve mentioned that I don’t see a scenario where the Brewers deal Escobar), but one of those prospects along with Parra and probably even more? It might not be out of line for the Blue Jays to ask for that, but I can’t imagine that fitting into the Brewers’ plans.

Meanwhile, as these Parra rumors surface, Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi continues to say a deal for Halladay is unlikely, but don’t be fooled. Halladay will be on another team by the end of the month.

His value is as high as it will ever be and the organization cannot put the team and the player through this grueling process again. When it comes down to crunch time as the trade deadline approaches, the Blue Jays will have to accept the best deal and move on.

Ricciardi said today that four teams are “serious” in competing for Halladay. Rumored teams include the Brewers, Phillies, Cardinals, Angels and Dodgers. The most mentioned destination, Philadelphia, might actually be losing steam as the Phillies are rumored to have moved on after not being open to including top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek in a trade.

The Cardinals probably don’t have the prospects to finish a deal and the Angels and Dodgers seem more like they’re just poking around than serious at this point. That leaves the Brewers. But are they a match?

Halladay would be an outstanding addition for the Brewers and one that could help them this season and next. The Brewers have some nice prospects they could package in a deal that would benefit both sides and the team might even be willing to include shortstop J.J. Hardy if the Blue Jays are interested in him. But if I were Melvin, I’d leave Parra off the table. If the Blue Jays won’t pull the trigger on a deal without him, move on. Halladay isn’t the only arm out there.