By Christian Binder, WSOE Sports
I never thought I’d see the day the notion was even entertained that Roy Halladay might leave the Blue Jays. It’d be like Derek Jeter leaving the Yankees – one just can’t see it happening. I mean, here’s a guy who’s a perennial Cy Young candidate year in and year out and now he’s being shopped? I mean, is J.P. Ricciardi really throwing in the towel on Halladay, thereby preparing the team for a rebuilding period? Well, let’s take a look at possible destinations.
Let’s start with the Yankees because Halladay is a big name and that’s what the Yankees always target. Before I go into that, let me just throw out some knowledge that is to be assumed: it’s going to take A LOT to lure Halladay away from the Jays. In the Yankees case, it might take a Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain/Ian Kennedy trio or some combination of two of the afore mentioned. However, the Yankees were unwilling to offer any of those three for the younger Johan Santana two years ago, so doing it now would seem pretty hypocritical. Plus, the Yankees are devoted to rebuilding the farm system. But let’s face it. Any team would love to have Halladay, and if the Yankees got him for, let’s just pretend it’s Hughes and Kennedy, their rotation would look like this: CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain. That’s an unbelievable rotation, arguably the best in baseball.
If I mention the Yankees, by rule I have to mention the Red Sox. They’d undoubtedly be in talks if the Yankees got in talks. I don’t see this happening because Boston is overloaded with pitching, especially with Clay Bucholtz looming in the minors, so they don’t really need Halladay’s services. Plus I think it’s pretty much out of the question for the Jays to trade Halladay to an AL East team.
There are two more likely destinations for Halladay in the NL. First is the Philadelphia Phillies. They are starving for pitching, even resorting to scouting Pedro Martinez in a simulated game in the Dominican Republic. Their most reliable pitcher this year has been J.A. Happ, who started the season in the bullpen. Cole Hamels is starting to look like the stud pitcher he was last year, but he’s still got a ways to go. Halladay would fit in nicely, eating up innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to work 3 or 4 innings every day. The question would be movable parts. Obviously they don’t want to part ways with any of their MVPs (Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, or Chase Utley) and they really don’t have any quality starters outside of Hamels and Happ to trade. An intriguing option would be outfielder Jayson Werth, who has a .263 batting average with 17 HRs, 50 RBI, and 11 SB on the season, but he’s just one player and certainly not enough return for Halladay. The other NL option for Halladay would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Blue Jays would probably ask for Chad Billingsley or young lefty Clayton Kershaw, possibly both. The Dodgers could afford to lose one of them, but certainly not both and there seems to be a reluctance to part ways with Kershaw. Out of any team, I see the Dodgers the most likely destination for Halladay, assuming that he waives his no-trade clause.
Let’s take a quick look at Halladay’s career numbers. 141-68 record, 3.47 ERA, 1,385 K, 437 BB, and 43 CG. That’s not easily replaced. However, the Blue Jays have unbelievable depth at pitching, both in the majors and minors. They were forced to replace Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch, and Dustin McGowan due to injuries with names no one had ever heard before – Ricky Romero, Scott Richmond, Brian Tallet, Brett Cecil, and just today, they called up minor-leaguer Marc Rzepczynski for a spot-start against the Rays. The crazy thing is, Rzepczynski was 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA in Triple-A after going 7-5 with a 2.93 ERA in Double-A this year. Now that’s depth.
If things don’t work out in the next few weeks for Halladay, the Jays could try to trade him again in the offseason or during next season. Next season is the final year of his contract, and it’d be hard for him to stay if the Jays continue to not be competitive. It’s like the Johan Santana fiasco all over again! Either way, I’m keeping a close eye on this one.