Thursday, July 9, 2009

Beggar's Halladay?

J.P. Ricciardi, the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays has said that their ace, Roy Halladay, could be available in a trade. With that in mind, Halladay could easily become the CC Sabathia of this year. It's a smart move by Ricciardi to let teams know that he could be had. There is a noticeable lack of quality starting pitching available and there are many teams, including the Phillies, who are desperately seeking pitching, so Ricciardi can put out a high price tag.

However, the difference between Halladay's situation and Sabathia's situation last year is that the Blue Jays still have Halladay under contract for another year for a reasonable price, and the Blue Jays are much closer to being a contender than the Indians were at this time last year. Now, the Blue Jays are only 8 games out of first place in the division, though still behind Tampa Bay, Boston, and New York. Last year, on July 9th, Cleveland was 15 games out of first place and at the bottom of their division. The Blue Jays also have many more pieces in place for a potential playoff run, while Cleveland has been in a rebuilding phase and had little hope of resigning Sabathia. Essentially, Toronto has much less of a reason to trade Halladay than Cleveland had to trade Sabathia.

Therefore, it will be a lot harder to pry Halladay away and it will cost a lot more. It will also cost players that are major-league ready. Last year, the Phillies fell short in the Sabathia sweepstakes. This year, they have more prospects of interest in their system. The Blue Jays could be interested in J.A. Happ, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco, and their three "untouchable" prospects: Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown, and Jason Knapp. The question is whether or not the price is too steep for Philadelphia. The Phillies would have to give up multiple top prospects for a 32-year old pitcher who they would only be guaranteed to have for another year and a half. Halladay also has a bit of an injury history. Once again, comparing Sabathia and Halladay, Sabathia was younger and has been far more durable throughout his career. If Halladay isn't traded this year, the Blue Jays don't extend his contract beyond 2010, and they decide to trade him next year, he probably won't be able to command as high a price tag as Sabathia.

For Ricciardi to get the most value from trading Halladay, now is the time to make a deal. As for the Phillies, Halladay would be a great immediate fit for them, but the starting pitching has been better lately, since Hamels, Blanton, and Moyer have been more effective of late, J.A. Happ has been successful as a starter, and it might be worth giving Rodrigo Lopez (assuming his injury last night doesn't cost him DL-time) and Carlos Carrasco a shot at securing the last rotation spot before they trade away their entire prospect corps for Halladay.

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