|Five Halladay questions needing answers|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on July 10, 2009
With the intrigue swirling around Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, there are a few questions that need to be answered before we know his eventual home for the remainder of this season. Whether that's Toronto still or Philadelphia or the West Coast remains to be seen.
1) What does the Phillies' phinancial (sorry) situation look like?
The Phillies have the seventh-highest payroll in the Major Leagues at a little over $113 million, according to ESPN.com. If the Phillies, the most logical contender for Halladay's services, can add a large amount of payroll, they could be the winners (see below) of the Halladay sweepstakes.
Brett Myers is eligible for free agency at season's end, as well as Pedro Feliz. The Phillies could non-tender Joe Blanton and hope Jamie Moyer decides to retire. If all four of those things come true, that would open about $28 million for next season.
Several players are expecting pay raises next season, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard being among them. But it's very likely the Phillies could find room for Halladay's $15.75 million salary for 2010. It may require some finagling, but it can be done.
This season's money, on the other hand, would be a different story. I don't have any insider information into what the team is willing to spend this year above and beyond what they're paying now. Halladay is owed about $6 or 7 million for the remainder of this season, depending on when Philadelphia pulls the trigger on a trade. Where is that money going to come from? Perhaps the Blue Jays will pay part of it, but it's a good bet the Phillies will have to splurge for some of it. They would be, after all, acquiring one of the best pitchers of the last few seasons.
2) Just who will the Phillies trade?
This is probably the most difficult barrier for the Phillies. They have said outfielder Dominic Brown is untouchable and that pitcher Kyle Drabek would be difficult to obtain. They have middle infield prospect Jason Donald, who teams covet, they can deal, but the Phillies most likely will have to part with at least Drabek to get something done. General manager can't cross off the names of his best prospects and ask J.P. Ricciardi to make a deal from there.
If Ricciardi is desperate enough to trade Halladay, then he's desperate enough to demand a huge haul in return for his ace. This is one of the best pitchers in the American League, after all. He could deliver the Phillies, along with Cole Hamels, a second consecutive National League pennant.
3) What about those West Coast teams?
The Angels and Dodgers both make sense for Halladay.
Let's start with the Angels. Ervin Santana and John Lackey aren't right, while Jared Weaver is going to continue declining as the season progresses. And with a bullpen as bad as the Angels', they definitely need some help. What better player to obtain than a durable ace who goes deep into games?
The Angels have the young players the Blue Jays could be asking for in return. If they ever want to use their prospects for something -- and they definitely aren't using them at the Major League level -- this would be the time.
Fiscally, the move makes sense. The Angels are getting Vladimir Guerrero and John Lackey off the books this season, which would enable them to chase a mid-level bat with a solid 1-2 punch in Weaver and Halladay next season. Baseball-wise, trading for Halladay puts them back in playoffs over the Rangers. If one of Lackey or Santana get going, the Angels could be primed for a run deep into the playoffs.
The Dodgers have been an excellent team over the season, but it's not a guarantee they advance deep into the playoffs. Consider this: Chad Billingsley is an ace by most any measure, but Hiroki Kuroda and Randy Wolf aren't ideal 2-3 guys. In a five-game series, Billingsley would start twice, but Kuroda would start twice and Wolf once. Imagine if Billingsley lost game one. That could spell doom for the Dodgers' chances for advancing.
Halladay gives the Dodgers a staff ace to match up with others in the playoffs, and a 1-2 punch of Billinglsey and Halladay would cut through the playoffs with ease. The Dodgers may, however, not be able to financially bare the load or not willing to do this move considering their huge lead in the west division.
4) What about those other teams?
The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays aren't going to be involved because they are in the same division as the Blue Jays. None of those teams want to deal their top prospects to a team where it could come back to haunt them. And the Blue Jays don't want to deal Halladay to a team they'd have to face multiple times this season and next. With those three teams out, the bidding war diminishes (see below).
The Brewers and Cardinals have the biggest need other than the teams listed above. Both could shoot to the top of the NL Central division and at least one round with Halladay in their rotation.
Could you imagine Halladay paired with Yovani Gallardo for a five-game series? How about Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Halladay in some order for a seven-game set? That would almost be unfair, especially considering Albert Pujols.
It doesn't seem like the Brewers are willing to make a move. They probably don't have the financial situation that would allow them to do it -- pure speculation, of course -- and they're not willing to trade top prospects Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar. One or both of those players would have to move for the Blue Jays to consider dealing Halladay.
According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, one team source said give the Blue Jays all of their minor league rosters and let him circle five names. Third base prospect Brett Wallace would almost certainly have to be part of the deal, unless the Cardinals were willing to move Colby Rasmus.
5) Is Halladay even going to leave Toronto?
The best guess here is that Halladay is staying in Toronto. With the economy shaping up as it is and two of the biggest spenders -- the Red Sox and Yankees -- excluded from the bidding war at the start, there just doesn't seem to be a team willing to throw together a package of prospects big enough for the Blue Jays.
The financial situation is also a mess. The Blue Jays are likely to pay part of Halladay's salary, considering the huge hit a team would take in adding about $16 million in 2010. I just don't know how many teams would be able to do this trade.
The New York Post reports that the Blue Jays want someone to take Vernon Wells off their hands in a package deal, but that's silly. There's no team in the Major Leagues who can afford to take on that type of salary. None.
So to handicap the race, the most likely scenarios for Halladay, in order: Blue Jays, Phillies, Angels, Cardinals, Dodgers, Brewers.