The Blue Jays checked in with several other teams regarding superstar pitcher Roy Halladay after hitting a snag with the Phillies. However, the Phillies still appear to be the best match for Toronto and remain the favorite in the opinion of most baseball executives.
Toronto suggested to the Yankees after a phone call from New York on Saturday that it would take both of their top young pitchers Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes – and that was just a start. The Blue Jays wanted the Yankees to add two more top prospects to that duo, living up to their promise to charge a premium to any AL East rival.
The Rangers and Angels also checked in with Toronto, and Foxsports.com reported the asking price of the Angels included pitchers Joe Saunders and Sean O’Sullivan and infielders Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood. The Rangers were requested to send four of their top young players (the Rangers have many), and countered with a proposal that included two of those players, according to league sources.
Despite all this talk, many baseball executives still believe Halladay will eventually go to the Phillies -- though perhaps not until close to the July 31 deadline. Those teams were locked in what was described as "intense" negotiations a couple days ago.
But when the Jays requested a high-end package that included both top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, fine young lefthanded pitcher J.A. Happ and well-regarded outfield prospect Dominic Brown (as first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer), and the Phillies apparently didn’t appreciate the request, the Jays picked up conversations with other teams.
It is believed the Phillies strongly object to the idea of including both Drabek and Happ. If an agreement can be reached eventually, the Jays are more likely to receive one of those two top young pitchers and one of their two great outfield prospects – either Brown or Michael Taylor -- plus another piece or two. If Drabek – the pitcher the Phillies very early suggested was untouchable – is included, the other players in the deal would be somewhat lesser in value. The Phillies have several more good prospects who could enhance a package, including pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson, outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and shortstop Jason Donald, giving them the edge.
The Phillies are considering the Indians' Cliff Lee if a deal for Halladay falls short.
One competing executive said he believed the Halladay derby would go beyond the Jays-announced self-imposed July 28 deadline and go right up until the actual deadline of July 31. The Red Sox, Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Rays, White Sox, and Tigers are among other teams to express interest.
One AL executive said Red Sox owner John Henry would like to do something big, but Boston GM Theo Epstein has been reluctant to trade his top prospects, and beyond that, the Red Sox’s biggest issue lately has been their offense. Toronto has made clear from the start that both the Yankees and Red Sox would have to pay a major premium to have any chance since they want to deal him out of the AL East. Boston has been reluctant to deal its top pitching prospect, Clay Buchholz.
With the recent revelation that Halladay told the Jays he wouldn't sign an extension, there seems to increase the likelihood of him being dealt, and one competing executive said he believes Toronto has concluded that its best package will come now, when Halladay would give an acquiring team two shots at a championship. Based on his recent comments, Halladay seems almost eager to go now, as well.
While some have suggested that even the chances for a deal for Halladay are "50-50" or less at different points during the shopping of the superstar pitcher, league executives believe Halladay will be dealt and that the Phillies remain the most likely landing spot. Though Drabek is viewed as a potential star, some execs suggest the Phillies would actually be better off trading the dynamic Drabek. "(Happ’s) their No. 3 pitcher," one AL executive pointed out. The multi-talented Brown is generally viewed as being the bigger prospect than Taylor, but both are extremely well-regarded.
Halladay has a full no-trade clause and has informed Toronto to which teams he'd be willing to go. But one Halladay acquaintance said he's almost sure Halladay would approve the Phillies because they are a very likely playoff team. It doesn’t hurt, either, that the Phils train in Clearwater Fla., adjacent to Dunedin, the very town where Halladay lives.