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The Roy Halladay Sweepstakes Has Officially Begun

Jeremiah Graves@cheapseatchronAnalyst IJuly 7, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 6:  Roy Halladay #32 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium May 6, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages—step up, step right up!

The Roy Halladay Sweepstakes has officially begun!

According to comments from Toronto Blue Jays' general manager J.P. Ricciardi at CBS Sportsline, the team is officially open to the possibility of trading the longtime ace.

"We have to see what makes us better," Ricciardi said. "Obviously, if people have interest in Roy Halladay, they'd better realize there's a steep price that's going to come with it."

It's a steep price, but one numerous teams should be willing to pay.

Unlike last year’s short-term rental of CC Sabathia, Halladay is under contract through 2010. He would only cost his new team a prorated portion of his $14.25 million and $15.75 million next season, a figure that is quite reasonable for a pitcher of Halladay’s pedigree.

Ricciardi had been reluctant to admit that the Blue Jays may be sellers this year, but economic woes combined with the club’s recent struggles have ultimately made the decision for him.

The Blue Jays managed to beat the Yankees on Monday to avoid a four-game sweep, but after dropping the first three games of the series, the club is just 5-11 against the three teams ahead of them in the American League East.

To make matters worse, 38 of the team’s remaining 78 games are against those same three teams—the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. With that in mind, the Blue Jays—despite still sitting two games over .500—are unofficially waving the white flag by admitting Halladay’s availability.

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Obviously the Blue Jays would prefer to keep Halladay in Toronto to anchor the staff in 2010 and beyond. Next season, the club expects to see the healthy return of starters Casey Janssen, Shaun Marcum, and Dustin McGowan, along with rookie Ricky Romero. The Blue Jays would then have a top-flight rotation to accompany a burgeoning young offense.

Unfortunately, it may be too little, too late to keep Halladay in Toronto, as the economy appears to be dictating the future of the Blue Jays.

“We have to be smart with how we can build our team," Ricciardi said. "We have to be open to anything, really."

Halladay, 32, possess a full no-trade clause and, essentially, can choose his next destination. All of the usual suspects, including all of the teams in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, and of course Boston, figure to be interested.

The biggest question is whether or not any of them are willing to pay the king’s ransom in prospects and Major League-ready talent it will take to land Halladay.

Given the dearth of impact front-line starters on the market, the sky is the limit for Ricciardi in trade negotiations. Many teams may balk at the asking price, but for a starter of Halladay’s caliber—and to potentially trade him within the division—the Blue Jays would be wise to ask for anything and everything they can get in return.

Whether Halladay is on the move or not is yet to be seen, but rest assured, the rumor mill out of Toronto figures to keep spinning until someone is named the winner in the Roy Halladay Sweepstakes.

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