Just when you thought the trade market was going to flat-line, word comes from Toronto that the Blue Jays will listen to offers for ace righthander Roy Halladay.
"We have to see what's out there," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. "I'm not saying we're going to shop him. But if something makes sense, we at least have to listen. We're (leaning) more toward listening than we've ever been."
I have a lot of respect of Rosenthal -- most of what he says is accurate and makes a lot of sense. In the column where Ricciardi's quotes appeared, the FoxSports.com analyst breaks down some likely contenders for Halladay. And, lo and behold, the Phillies are one of his front-runners. But the Jays are not going to give Halladay away, so get any thoughts of a Kyle Kendrick, Jason Donald and Yohan Flande package out of your head. How much will it take to pry away from our friendly neighbors to the North? Rosenthal mentions Clay Buchholz as a starting point should the Red Sox seek to get into the sweepstakes. He is a top-shelf prospect with major league experience. The Phillies do not have any of those.
But they do have bargaining chips.
Here are the two questions that need to be answered: What would it take to get Halladay? How much is too much?
First, let's take a look at what a team would be getting on the field:
- Halladay is 32 years old.
- From 2006-2008 he averaged 17 wins, 7 losses, a 3.22 ERA, 6.2 strikeouts and 1.6 walks per nine innings.
- This season, he is 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA. Opponents are hitting .250 off of him.
- Halladay is 17-8 with a 3.02 ERA in 35 career interleague appearances.
- Halladay was on the disabled list twice with shoulder problems in 2004, and missed the second half of 2005 after breaking his leg. But he has been mostly healthy since, although he did spend time on the DL in 2007 after an appendectomy.
- The Phillies coaching staff likes Halladay a lot.
Second let's take a look at his contract:
- Halladay is in the second year of a three-year, $40 million contract
- He is scheduled to early $14.25 million this season, which means the Phillies would be adding roughly $7.125 million of payroll for the rest of this season.
- Halladay is scheduled to earn $15.75 million in 2010, after which he will become a free agent.
Third, let's take a look at the Phillies' bargaining chips:
- OF Dominic Brown: Rated by Baseball America as the organization's top prospect, he is currently on the disabled list with a broken finger, but that shouldn't limit his value. The 21-year-old left-handed hitting corner outfielder was hitting .299 with a .379 On Base Percentage with nine home runs, 38 RBI and 14 stolen bases at Class A Clearwater.
- RHP Kyle Drabek: He has been tearing up Double-A Reading, and at just 21 years old may be on the verge of surpassing Carlos Carrasco as the organization's top pitching prospect.
- LHP J.A. Happ: Happ recently recorded his first career complete game shutout against the Blue Jays and has been fantastic the last two seasons. Scouts don't think he has the upside of a Buchholz, but with five more years of club control and an impressive start to his career, he has value.
- INF Jason Donald: He has battled injury and performance issues since his promotion to Triple-A, but he is still viewed as one of the Phillies' better prospects.
- C Lou Marson: Like Donald, has had a so-so year at Triple-A. But, also like Donald, he is the closest thing the organization has to a major-league-ready bat, and he plays a premium position.
- OF Michael Taylor: You know all about him already. If you don't, check out his stats at Double-A Reading.
- RHP Carlos Carrasco: Kind of in the Gavin Floyd mold. Great stuff, but he still does not have the major league makeup. Then again, he is only 22 years old.
- OF John Mayberry: Has drifted back and forth between the Phils and Lehigh Valley. Big-time power, but won't be an everyday player in Philly for at least another year-and-a-half.
Now, let's try to formulate what kind of package it would take to land Halladay:
As far as comparables, the best place to start is with the Brewers' acquisition of C.C. Sabathia last season.
To land Sabathia, the Brewers parted with power-hitting outfielder Matt LaPorta, who was not only their top prospect, but one of the top prospects in the game. They also gave up LHP Zach Jackson, RHP Rob Bryson, and 3B Taylor Green. None of those players were among the organization's top prospects.
But keep in mind, Sabathia was a free agent at the end of the season. Halladay has the added value of being under contract for next season.
So what will the Blue Jays be looking for?
I'd guess - and, again, it just a guess -- it will be something like this: One top-prospect with big major league upside (Brown, Drabek) one prospect who is close to major-league ready (Happ, Donald, Marson), one or two medium-level prospects (Kendrick, Carpenter, Mayberry etc) and one prospect from the lower levels of the system. The wild card in all of this is Carrasco. I'm just not sure how the Phillies or other teams view him. He could fit into either of the top two categories.
So here are some packages I'll throw out there. You tell me which ones wouldn't make sense for the Phillies:
- Dominic Brown, J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, John Mayberry Jr.
- Drabek, Jason Donald or Lou Marson, Andrew Carpenter, Player TBA
- Drabek, J.A. Happ, John Mayberry Jr., Player TBA
- Drabek, Michael Taylor, J.A. Happ, Player TBA
- Dominic Brown, Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Kyle Kendrick
Frankly, I don't know how much sense it would make to give up J.A. Happ, because although you up drastically upgrade the top of your rotation, you still have a big hole at the bottom of it. Then again, I like Happ a lot, and I think he brings a lot of things to the table that do not show up on radar guns and scouting reports. Who knows if the front office feels the same way -- his name has been linked in several proposed deals over the past year. At the same time, I don't know how much sense it would make for the Blue Jays to give up Halladay without getting a pitcher who can step into the rotation.
Whatever happens, at least it gives folks something to talk about.