With the winter meetings coming to a close shortly, Roy Halladay still remains a Toronto Blue Jay. Speculation picked up some steam in the last couple of days as the Phillies have quietly jumped back in the sweepstakes, and Philadelphia is his preferred destination.
The Phillies were the favorites to land him during the regular season before they decided to find an alternative in Cliff Lee, a move that turned out to be the best possible deal considering the circumstances surrounding the soap opera Toronto was running.
Five months later, it appears as if the Phils would still love to get their hands on Halladay; however, there are a few things that would have to fall into place before considering a potential Halladay trade with Philadelphia.
Reportedly, Ruben Amaro Jr. has a spending limit for the 2010 season of around $140 million, and adding Halladay's $15.75 million salary for this coming season would send the Phillies over their budget, meaning the ownership would have to make "Doc" an exception.
Or it makes sense of the rumors that Philadelphia is shopping starting pitcher Joe Blanton, who made $5.75 million in 2009 and is set for a raise in arbitration.
Several media outlets have said that the Phillies have let teams know that they would be willing to trade Blanton to free up money to improve the bullpen. It now looks like they could be shopping "Big Joe" in a precursor move to acquire Halladay.
The only thing left on Amaro's to-do list is to improve his pitching staff—more importantly, the bullpen. It has been said that the Phillies aren't willing to pay top money for a top-notch reliever, but would rather take a chance on a bullpen arm with upside.
One has to wonder why Amaro would be looking in the bargain bin for relievers when he has around $10 million left in his checkbook if the supposed budget is accurate. And while we're in the speculation game, is Amaro planning to break the bank for Halladay?
I wrote a month ago that it would be a good baseball decision to reel in Halladay this winter, and that's still my thought process at this point of time.
Halladay wants out of Toronto according to former general manager J.P. Ricciardi, and everyone knows that he will not be pitching for the Blue Jays past this season shall he remain on the team come spring training.
His contract expires after this coming campaign, which is another obstacle in a possible trade with the Jays. If the Phillies were to pull the trigger, they would want to talk extension with him considering what they would have to give up.
Jayson Stark quoted an official from a team who has talked with Toronto about acquiring Halladay in the past saying that Philadelphia is where he wants to pitch.
"If he could only pick one place? Oh, Philadelphia," the source said. "No question. He lives right near their spring training camp. It's an easy trip down to Florida to get home. They've got a great team. And it's not the pressure of New York—not that pressure bothers him."
It's the thinking that Halladay would want an extension along with the trade from the team who acquires him, and that leaves three teams that he would waive his no-trade clause for: Philadelphia, New York (Yankees, not Mets), and Boston.
Despite rumors of the Sox' apparent interest in Halladay, it doesn't sound to me that they are serious about getting Doc. They seem more focused on signing Jason Bay or Matt Holliday than trading away top prospects to meet Toronto's demands.
The Yankees completed the offseason's first blockbuster trade yesterday when they acquired Curtis Granderson from Detroit. Though, I wouldn't count the Bronx Bombers out of the Halladay sweepstakes just yet.
New York still thinks they have what it takes to pry the 32-year-old away from their divisional rival, and lord knows that they have the financial flexibility to add his contract onto the books so there's always a chance with the Yanks.
And then there were two to dance, and Halos have reportedly offered Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar, and Peter Bourjas to the Jays; however, there's speculation that Toronto doesn't want Major League players in return.
So, by the process of elimination, the Phillies make the most sense for Halladay—and for that matter, Toronto as well. If you look at it from the Jays' perspective, trading him to the Phils would get him out of the American League.
Alex Anthopoulos finds himself between a rock and a hard place because of the guy he replaced as the GM. Blue Jays fans know that they are going to get less for Halladay now than they would have gotten at the trade deadline.
For Anthopoulos, the best-case scenario is to trade Doc into the National League. Imagine how many pissed-off Jays fans there will be 19 times a year if Halladay is donning a Yankees or Red Sox jersey.
The asking price is what got in the way of a Phillies-Jays trade at the deadline; Ricciardi was asking for an arm and a leg for him, and Amaro wasn't willing to comply with the demands.
I'm expecting Anthopoulos to ask for the roof again until it gets closer to spring training, and desperation starts coming into play. Halladay told the Jays to have a trade done by March, and that he will not waive his NTC during the season.
You have to think at some point this offseason, Toronto will lower their demands for Halladay in fear of losing him for nothing like they will if they don't trade him next winter. There have been reports that he will not re-sign with the Jays.
Like I said before, the art of trading is all about leverage and right now, Anthopoulos has absolutely none. Everyone knows he has to trade Halladay, and he will trade him sometime between now and spring training.
It's only a matter of time before this saga finds its solution, but at the end of the day, Halladay will be wearing pinstripes. The question is, what color looks better on him, red or blue?
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