The chances that Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi trades Roy Halladay within the AL East are slim to none. They are so small, in fact, that they pretty much don't exist.
But as long as the Red Sox are rumored to be in the mix for Halladay, the Yankees will be there, too — and vice versa. And as long as those teams are involved, there is a reason to talk about it.
No one knows if the Jays will really trade Halladay and, in effect, tell an already devastated fan base that they are giving up on the 2009 season and, in many ways, 2010 as well. But Ricciardi's most recent statement has the baseball world believing he is finally ready to pull the trigger and let the best pitcher in the world pitch somewhere else.
The Yankees are in a tough spot when it comes to deciding whether or not to make a real play for Doc. There is no doubt that Ricciardi will try to strip the potential suitor of its best young talent — both major-league ready and not — and if he can even begin to think about shipping Halladay to the Bronx or the Bean, it's going to be costly.
And not no-name-players costly. Ricciardi has the ability to turn a team from contender to immediate World Series favorite with one significant transaction, and he is going to want to be compensated accordingly. If you’re thinking about what the Yankees might have to lose to acquire Halladay, think Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano and factor in Austin Jackson and/or Jesus Montero.
Still want Halladay? Because it’s unclear if Brian Cashman does.
Let's not forget the winter of 2007 when Cashman had the opportunity to trade for Johan Santana, a deal he decided against. And he stood pat on the CC Sabathia sweepstakes last summer, choosing instead to wait for Sabathia to become a free agent so he could unload cash instead of prospects to land the big man. Why would he trade his best young talent after already opting against it twice before?
Then again, how can the Yankees front office not be at least tempted to construct a big three of Halladay, Sabathia and A.J. Burnett?
There is no question that Cashman’s objective is to win the World Series every single season, and that is how he is ultimately judged by his employers, the media and the fans. However, since taking full control of the front office in the Bronx, Cashman has preached drafting and developing. A move to put Halladay in pinstripes would go completely against that.
But now there is apparently more to the Halladay frenzy than meets the eye. It seems like the Jays might want to make a deal similar to the one the Marlins and Red Sox made involving Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell prior to the 2006 season. With the 25th best attendance in baseball, Toronto is looking to cut back on payroll and the one contract preventing them from doing so is the seven-year, $126 million deal they gave to Vernon Wells before the 2007 season. That hasn’t worked out so well.
If some club is willing to take on Wells in a potential deal for Halladay, that could sweeten the pot and make Ricciardi feel a little better about trading the foundation of his franchise.
The solid play from Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera has made the Yankees less likely to trade for a stud in center, and with the 22-year old Jackson waiting in the wings in Triple-A, there is no need for a center fielder — especially one with a ton of money left on his contract. But a trade for Halladay that includes Wells would mean that at least one of those three Yankees would be on the move, leaving a need for someone in center.
There’s no question that Halladay is far different from any other pitcher the Yankees have been rumored to be after at the trade deadline. Halladay isn’t some so-called ace from the inferior National League, testing the AL waters for the first time. This is the best arm in baseball, an arm that has dominated the best division in the game during his 12-year career.
There is no reason to think Halladay — the game’s true workhorse — couldn’t handle New York, whether or not he is shy and reserved. When you have Halladay’s work ethic and arsenal of pitches, there isn’t anywhere you can’t pitch and be successful.
Entering Wednesday’s action, the Yankees have the second-best record in the American League and are just one game back of the Red Sox, a team they are 0-8 against. There is no question the Yankees are in the pennant conversation, though a move for Halladay would cement their spot in the top tier.
What it really comes down to is whether or not Cashman can justify picking apart a strong, young corps of players he has spent the better part of the decade constructing. And if he can, then there is no reason to think he won’t at least entertain Ricciardi with some sort of legitimate offer.
Cashman has a tough decision to make over the next couple of weeks when it comes to Halladay. Ricciardi has a tougher one.