I am hesitant to enter into the speculation over the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. However, despite the fact that the trade deadline came and went last season without “Doc” Halladay leaving Toronto, it still remains likely that Halladay is dealt. The question is when.
The Jays could shrewdly holdout until midseason to deal Doc hoping to take advantage of a playoff contender looking for starting pitching down the stretch. Admittedly, this is most likely option.
That being said, the Blue Jay ace is owed $15.75 million in 2010 before becoming a free agent, and the Jays are not likely to be contenders in 2010.
After finishing fourth in the American League East last season, there are two primary reasons Toronto will continue to be in rebuilding mode heading into next season.
Second perhaps only to the New York Mets, Toronto, more than any other team, has been savaged by injuries and uncertainty.
They are expected to lose two starters to free agency Marco Scutaro (SS) and Rod Barajas (C).
Three promising starting pitchers, Jesse Litsch, Shawn Marcum, and Dustin McGowan are expected to return after missing much of 2009. Litsch and Marcum each had Tommy John Surgery, so it is uncertain how effective they will be.
Two of their overpaid, underperforming positional starters Edwin Encarnacion (3B- $4.75 million) Vernon Wells (CF- 98.5 million over the next five years ) are undergoing surgery this off season. Both are expected to be ready by spring training.
Simply put, the Jays have a lot of work to do this winter.
If Toronto maintains its $80.5 million, the departure of former closer BJ Ryan and his $10 million contract, will leave the team that about that much to spend this offseason.
Given the lowly state of the Toronto farm system after the promotions of outfielder Adam Lind and Travis Snider, they might be tempted to start restocking their lower levels now by trading Halladay.
CBSSports writer Eric Mack writes , “They really need a four- or five-player package for Roy Halladay to stock their farm system now.”
It would be logical for Toronto to try to coordinate their free agent acquisitions, with such a trade (something they could not do if they trade Halladay at the trade deadline next season).
Enter the New York Mets.
Sports Illustrated writer (and also WFAN and SNY analyst) Jon Heyman suggests via Twitter that the Mets wish list goes power hitter, starting pitcher, starting catcher; in that order.
I am increasingly becoming convinced that the Mets (despite their alleged interest in outfielder Matt Holliday) should consider making a big splash this winter in the trade pool, not the free-agent market.
As ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney tweets, this offseason’s “big-money [free agent] market..."will be very, very limited. It amounts, essentially, to as Olney puts it, “the Big Three: Lackey, Bay, Holliday.”
Given this limited amount of elite talent, the “Big Three” are going to want big money.
The LA Times indicates that Matt Holliday’s agent, Scott Boras, is already trying to sell Matt Holliday as this year's Mark Teixeira. The implication is that considering they are comparable players they deserve comparable salaries. I would not be surprised if the Mets get outbid on Holliday and Bay.
Heyman also reports that the Mets are concerned with Jon Lackey’s recent injury history.
If these early indications continue to come to fruition and the Mets pass on the “Big Three” due to injury and financial concerns, the free agent pool gets drained of its elite talent pretty quickly.
The Mets would be forced to the trading block if they want to compete in 2010. As a argued in a earlier article my first choice would be to trade for Adrian Gonzalez. If he is unavailable or unattainable, the Amazin’s should consider Roy Halladay.
If the Jays Ace is available, presumably the Mets chief trade rivals would be the Red Sox and Yankees. Like in the Johan Santana trade two years ago, again Boston and the Bronx Bombers would have more prospects to offer.
The Mets on the other hand would benefit from Toronto’s predictable hesitancy to trade their CY Young award winner within their division.
To land Johan, the Mets gave up their No. 3 through No. 6 prospects according to Baseball America at the time. If the Mets were follow suit this offseason, it would entail trading Fernando Martinez (OF), Ike Davis (1B), Brad Holt (RHP) and Jonathan Niese (LHP).
A deal I would make in a heartbeat to ensure that the Mets start their 2010 season with the nasty lefty-righty combination of Johan Santana and Roy Halladay.