Halladay puts the squeeze on the Jays

Roy Halladay’s message to the Blue Jays is simple: Either deal me before spring training or get nothing in return for my services when I walk at the end of the season.

Halladay’s people recently informed the Jays that he would not accept a trade after he reports to spring training this season. So if the club had plans to trade him before the trade deadline to a desperate buyer willing to give up more in a package deal, then they should think again.

This is power move by Halladay, who doesn’t want to spend another second in Toronto if he doesn’t have to. If he knows he’ll eventually be traded, he might as well force a deal before the season so he can get acclimated to his new team from Day 1 of spring training.

On the other side, this could either be a great thing for the Blue Jays or a terrible one. Sometimes when teams wait to trade a marquee player, they get less at the deadline than they would have in the offseason. While it’s true other clubs are more desperate at the deadline, GMs will know that the Jays want to trade Halladay and may try to low ball them in terms of offers.

On the other hand, if new GM Alex Anthopoulos can’t pull the trigger on a deal before the deadline and Halladay sticks to his guns, then there’s a big chance that Toronto will get nothing in return for the ace.

With this move, Halladay just amp’ed up the intrigue surrounding this situation.

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Report: Tigers could have had Halladay?

According to a report by Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, the Blue Jays wanted starter Rick Porcello, Ryan Perry and Casey Crosby from the Tigers in exchange for ace Roy Halladay but Detroit declined.

Porcello is a 20-year-old right-hander who is 9-7 with a 4.62 ERA and likely will draw votes for American League rookie of the year.

Perry, 22, another right-hander, was the Tigers’ first-round draft pick in 2008 and has pitched effectively out of the bullpen for manager Jim Leyland’s club. His ERA is 3.90, but 1.80 since his recent recall from the minors.

Crosby, 20, was the Tigers’ fifth-round draft pick in 2007 and is regarded as perhaps its top minor league prospect. He is a left-hander who pitches at Class A West Michigan, where he is 8-3 with a 2.92 ERA.

Let’s operate under the assumption that this report is true. Why wouldn’t the Tigers pull the trigger on a deal like this? I understand that Porcello, Perry and Crosby would have been quite a steep price to pay, but the Tigers have a solid pitching rotation and adding an arm like Halladay would have given them an opportunity to compete for a World Series.

The postseason is all about who can compile the best four-man rotation and Detroit could have had a quartet of Halladay, Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Armando Galarraga. Granted, Galarraga would have been a weak link, but Tiger opponents would still have had to deal with a top three of Halladay, Verlander and Jackson in a seven-game series. That rotation, coupled with a solid lineup, could have potentially lifted the Tigers back to the World Series for the second time in four years. (That’s not to say that the Tigers can’t compete for a World Series without Halladay, but you get the point.)

With baseball transforming back into a young man’s game, I respect that the Tigers want to hang onto their youth. But Halladay is damn near a guarantee, which can’t be said for the three prospects Detroit would have had to give up. Plus, with Halladay not set to become a free agent until after the 2010 season, if the Tigers weren’t satisfied with the trade, they could have flipped the “Doc” next year and got prospects (not those prospects, but prospects) back.

I just don’t understand why the Tigers wouldn’t take a chance and pull the trigger on a deal like this. It could have been the difference from winning the AL Central and winning the AL Pennant.

Halladay sizes up his odds of getting traded as 50/50

Roy Halladay says the odds that he’ll get traded this season are a “flip of the coin.”

“I’d rather hit than face Jeter, A-Rod, Matsui and Teixeira,” Halladay said.
He added: “I think there is so much that goes into it. I’m still not 100 percent sure which direction we’re going in in Toronto. If Toronto does decide to do something, it’s really going to be something that helps the organization. There’s going to be a lot of pieces; it’s going to be complicated. I think it’s going to be kind of 50-50.”

Halladay, who is under contract for next season at $15.75 million, has a no-trade clause and would have to approve any deal. He did not say whether an extension would have to be part of any deal.
The Blue Jays have sent scouts throughout the majors and minors as they try to gauge the talent pool they might get back for one of the game’s best pitchers.

“It’s a tough situation, but you always want to win,” Halladay said. “You want that chance to win, that’s every player’s dream. For me, I’m looking [at] it as they’re exploring options. Something may come of it, something may not. I’m trying to keep the emotions out of it as much as I can.”

I happen to think the Jays will hang onto Halladay because they’ll be afraid of the potential fan backlash that they’ll receive from trading away their biggest star. That obviously wouldn’t be a good baseball decision (as in, it wouldn’t be wise for a team to allow their fan base to make a decision for them), but it’s not like keeping Halladay for the next year and a half is a bad thing. After all, he is one of the top 5 pitchers in the game.

I think Halladay will wind up being shipped out next season because he’s a free agent after the 2010 season. I think Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi is just kicking the tires on a deal this year to see what he could potentially land for Halladay. Of course, he could probably get more for Halladay this year, with it being a weak trade market for arms.

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