Nice Try Ricciardi, But Halladay's Got to Go Now

Chris GubataCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 14: American League All-Star Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)

It is not earth-shattering news to any baseball fan that the Toronto Blue Jays are actively shopping their ace and arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay.

Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi put his ace on the trading block last month in hopes of obtaining something in return for Halladay after his contract runs out following the 2010 season. Halladay figures to have at least the same market value as CC Sabathia, who signed with the New York Yankees this past offseason for $161 million.

Sabathia is a few years younger than Halladay but matches up well in terms of durability and effectiveness. Ricciardi knows that the Blue Jays have a better chance of winning the World Series this year and next than they do at offering enough money to re-sign Halladay.

In essence, if Ricciardi is looking down the line to his 2010 roster, he has already erased “Doc” from the list.

So, it is no wonder that the Jays should try to get something for him. Unfortunately for the other 29 teams in baseball, “something” seems about as valuable as the Hope diamond.

We cannot blame Ricciardi for not wanting to be undersold for Halladay, the premier starter in the A.L. and the face of the Jays franchise. But, Ricciardi is only kidding himself if he keeps this act up.

Here’s why: From the Jays' perspective, you act as if Halladay is gone following the 2010 season. Halladay would be foolish if he did not test the waters of free agency, unless with his no-trade clause he somehow only agrees to a trade to a team that also guarantees him a contract ala Johan Santana and the Mets.

If that is not the case, then any team that acquires him does so with the understanding that the chance is excellent that Halladay will not be there longer than a year and a half.

But, if Ricciardi continues to hold out for one team to unload their farm system for Halladay and doesn’t move him before next Friday, then Halladay’s value takes a critical hit.

It would be unlikely for Halladay to be traded following next Friday’s deadline. If we are then to steal a page from Brett Favre’s book and repeat this song-and-dance next July, then teams are going to shop for Halladay under the impression that he will only be with the club for the rest of the 2010 season, or about 2-3 months.

If this happens, Riccardi will not be able to demand the type of prospects that he is now, because teams can acquire Halladay after the season is over without giving up prospects.

While pundits will say that a Halladay deal is unlikely, it is really in the Jays' best interest to trade him now.

Ricciardi, however, may be playing a clever game. By stating in several public appearances that they have not been “wowed” by any offers and that a trade is unlikely, Ricciardi comes out a winner all the way around.

At least coming from the Jays fans that I have talked to about this issue, they are very torn and do not want to see Halladay go. But, they know that it is unlikely that Halladay will re-sign to a significant hometown discount.

So by playing coy, Ricciardi can make it seem as though he was open to restocking the farm system by moving Halladay while retaining him and keeping the fan base intact. If a team does approach him (and I’m sure that more are than he’s letting on), he can make it seem as if the offer was superb and far outstripped any he had heard previously.

Again, Halladay’s value is declining with every passing day, leaving me to believe that he will be moved, but not until next Friday.