Roy Halladay Is an Ace, But He’s Not Worth a Blank Check Roy Halladay wants a trade to happen by spring training, but the Red Sox should be in no hurry to bring the Blue Jays’ ace to Boston. It’s a move that could backfire, and the Red Sox could end up regretting the decision in the long run.

Everybody knows Halladay is a great pitcher. The former Cy Young winner has gone 130-59 with 3.34 ERA since 2002. But over the last two seasons, he has reached double-digits in losses (11 in 2008 and 10 in 2009) and turns 33 on May 14. There are no guarantees he hasn’t peaked, will stay healthy in the future or won’t start trending in the wrong direction.

Halladay, a 12-year veteran, is in the last year of three-year, $40 million deal and scheduled to make $15.75 million in 2010 before becoming a free agent. Any team that acquires Halladay is going to want to lock him up to a multiyear extension, and that extension will not come cheap.

Neither will the cost of securing Halladay from Toronto in the first place. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos seems to have more realistic expectations than his predecessor, J.P. Ricciardi, in terms of an asking price, but that doesn’t mean Anthopoulos has a “Fleece Me” sign hanging in his office.

It’s still going to take a monster package to land the front-line pitcher. The Red Sox likely would have to say goodbye to Clay Buchholz, Casey Kelly, another top prospect (or two) and perhaps even another proven major leaguer. That’s a whole lot of talent to give up for one player.

Throw in a nine-figure contract for a thirty-something arm that has over 2,000 career innings on his odometer, and is the risk worth the reward?

Look at Johan Santana.

The Mets acquired the ace left-hander from the Twins in January of 2008 for outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitching prospects Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. Santana was 28 at the time, and slated to hit free agency after the upcoming season. New York signed him to a six-year, $137.5 million extension to complete the blockbuster trade.

Santana went 16-7 with a 2.67 ERA in his first year in Queens, but the Mets still missed the playoffs.

In 2009, he pitched only 166 2/3 innings, went 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA, did not start a game after Aug. 20 and had elbow surgery in September to remove bone chips from his elbow. The Mets won 70 games and finished 23 games out of first place in the NL East.

Santana is expected to ready for spring training, but he should serve as a cautionary tale.

If the price is right, the Red Sox should make the deal for Halladay. But before pulling the trigger, consider these guidelines:

1. Don’t trade young pitching for old pitching.

2. Don’t give up four potential championships for the chance to win one now.

3. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Steinbrenners to prevent a player from going to the Yankees.

It takes more than one player to win a World Series — even if that player is Roy Halladay

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve a pitching staff. Just make sure the cost isn’t more than the return.