Why the Phillies Traded for Roy Halladay: Analyzing the Deal

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Why the Phillies Traded for Roy Halladay: Analyzing the Deal
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Now that the dust has settled, Roy Halladay is a Philadelphia Phillie. 

For a franchise that has started the likes of Jon Lieber, Kevin Millwood, and Robert Person on Opening Day, that previous sentence is a pleasant sight to the eyes of Phillies fans.

A lot of people may not understand why the Phillies have decided to trade Cliff Lee. It's important to understand a few things. Halladay is an upgrade, potentially the best pitcher in baseball the last six years, and Lee was not going to stay here beyond 2009, especially if the Phillies' front office had anything to say about it. 

This pretty much came to fruition after Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. met with Lee's agent recently to discuss a potential contract extension for the left-hander.

Lee is signed for $9 million this season. And while it would have been nice to have a rotation that included Halladay, Lee, and Cole Hamels, the Phillies will still have a vaunted rotation in 2010. 

Lee has the opportunity to get $23-25 million over six years on the open market. He's going to test the free agent market next year, and it's likely he'll get that from somebody. 

So for 2010, the Phillies essentially are getting Halladay for Lee. Halladay makes $15.75 million this season. Toronto will send $6 million in the deal, for a total of about $9.75 million in 2010 for Halladay, and what the Phillies pay him in 2009 is similar to what they would have paid Lee. 

The key here is that Lee wasn't re-signing for what the Phillies wanted. Halladay's three-year extension at $20 million per season through 2013 (and possibly 2014) is a bargain, much better than Lee at $23-24 million over six years.

The Phillies have taken the stance since the Pat Gillick era began (and to an extent, the Ed Wade era) of not giving pitchers more than three years on a deal. They got what they wanted. 

So what about the prospects? Some will say the Phillies are getting a short stick because they are giving up Lee, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis D'Arnaud.

That's really not the way to look at it. Back in the summer, Amaro had a choice of Halladay or Lee. He went with Lee because the cost was Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, and Lou Marson. It was a decent haul for Cleveland.

Knapp has a good chance to be a decent starter, and if not that, a good back-end of the bullpen guy.

Catchers don't grow on trees, and Marson has an opportunity to start for Cleveland next year. While Carrasco's stock fell, Donald will probably be a solid middle infielder in his career. 

At the time, the Phillies had the option of doing that deal or dealing Drabek, Domonic Brown, J.A. Happ, and Anthony Gose to Toronto for Halladay.

This was too much to give up, bottom line. The Phillies would have lost their best pitching prospect and their best position prospect.

The Phillies get to keep Brown in this deal for Halladay, which is important. It's going to be fun to watch Brown's career develop, and he will most likely be the highest-rated prospect in the Phillies' system now that Drabek is gone. 

In the end, the simple way to look at it is that the Phillies traded Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson for the three months of Cliff Lee, Ben Francisco, Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and Juan Carlos Ramirez. 

Then they trade Drabek, Taylor, and D'Arnaud for Halladay and the $6 million. Not too bad. 

Aumont is 6'7", and has been bounced between starting and relieving in the minor leagues. It remains to be seen where he will be in 2010 and what role he will be in. 

Gillies has a chance to be the Phillies' starting center fielder by 2012. He has above-average speed and posted a .916 OPS in the Minors last year, although he played in a hitter's haven in High Desert, Arizona

Juan Carlos Ramirez has electric stuff, with a fastball sitting around 91-92 with room for growth. A lot of people feel he'll be a solid pitcher in the near future, probably in the middle of a Major League rotation.  

Critics will argue that the Phillies are a cheap organization and that they should have kept Lee to create a potentially dynamic rotation. 

It's vital to understand that the Phillies do not have a "bottomless pit [of money]," as Amaro explained at today's press conference.

If it really was about the money, the Phillies would have moved Joe Blanton and his expected $7 million salary in 2010. 

Had the Phillies moved Blanton, however, they would not have gotten the return in prospects that they could get with Lee. 

The Phillies opted to make a bold move, trading Lee and getting three known prospects. At the very least, Amaro is one of the most creative general mangers baseball has seen in the last couple of decades. 

The Phillies are in win-now mode, and Amaro is trying his best to give another championship to the city of Philadelphia. 

So the question becomes, would you rather have had Halladay-Hamels-Blanton-Happ-Moyer, or Lee-Hamels-Blanton-Happ-Moyer?

On the surface it doesn't look like much of a big difference for 2010, but this is going to be felt further down the road.

There was a good chance that Lee would have walked away after this year, with the best result being the Phillies getting two compensation picks had they offered him arbitration.

Now, instead of pinning everything on Hamels and a patchwork rotation in 2011, the Phillies have a long-term option in Halladay. 

So, Roy Halladay is a Phillie. And we're all going to enjoy it. When he steps foot on the mound next April, it's going to be pretty surreal.

Lee will be missed, but there's a new ace in town. 

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