White Sox believed to be team that made claim for Rios

According to a report by SI.com, the White Sox are believed to be the team that made a waiver claim for Blue Jays right fielder Alex Rios.

By rule, the Jays are also allowed to let the claiming team assume Rios’ contract — a seven-year, $69.35 million deal which still has about $60 million remaining on it — or pull Rios back and keep him and his contract.

Two competing executives, who were unaware of the identity of the claiming team, opined that they believe the Blue Jays, who have financial issues, would be wise to just let the claiming team have Rios and his contract. However, there is little evidence that the Jays are willing to do that at this point, and may instead be trying to acquire pieces of significant value in return for Rios.

Rios makes sense for the Sox, who will be able to take on salary with guys like Jim Thome becoming a free agent in 2010, and whose outfield situation could use an upgrade.

What’ll be interesting to see is if the Blue Jays try to acquire something back for Rios, or if they’ll just be happy to dump his entire contract and move on. Either way, if they clear all of his salary off the books, they might be in the running for a top free agent like Jason Bay (who is Canadian by the way) this winter.

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Olney: Blue Jays place Rios on waivers

In a surprising development, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney is reporting that the Blue Jays have placed outfielder Alex Rios on waivers and an unidentified team has already claimed him.

The Blue Jays, it appears, have three options, and must make a decision by Tuesday, because the waiver period will roll through the weekend:

• They could work out a trade with the team that claimed Rios.
• They could pull him back from waivers, and keep him for themselves the rest of this season.
• They could simply allow the team that claimed him to take him, at no cost.

While this move definitely came out of nowhere, it makes sense that the Jays would want to dump Rios’ salary with his ceiling pretty much maxed out at 28 years old. He’s probably not going to play up to the $60 million that remains on his contract so if another team wants to take on all of his salary, then maybe Toronto is thinking it should jump on the opportunity and spend the money elsewhere.

What’ll be interesting to find out is which team claimed Rios. According to MLB Trade Rumors, several teams including the Mets, Red Sox, Giants, Reds and Mariners did not put a waiver claim on him, so the mystery team remains at large.

The first team that I thought of when I heard this news (and before I checked out MLB Trade Rumors) was the Giants. GM Brian Sabean foolishly toyed with the idea of trading Tim Lincecum for Rios two winters ago, so it would stand to reason that San Fran (who is still a hitter shy of making a serious World Series push) would go after him now. But with the way the waiver claims work in baseball, the Giants would be one of the last teams in line seeing as how they play in the NL (AL teams would have first crack at Rios) and they have the third best record in their league.

Jays might expand deal for Halladay to include other players

If (and that’s a big if) Roy Halladay gets traded in the next two weeks, the deal might include one of the Blue Jays’ other players too.

Say a team needs a middle infielder … hop aboard, Marco Scutaro.

If someone needs bullpen help … Jason Frasor or Scott Downs could join Halladay.

If a club needs a lefty specialist … Brian Tallet could join Halladay on a plane out of Dodge.

“We’ve been told that the deal could expand, depending upon our need,” said an American League scout.

Scott Rolen has drawn interest from the Cincinnati Reds, but now the Reds look as if they will be sellers rather than buyers.

The Jays have scouted the Philadelphia Phillies’ class-A Clearwater club this week and watched Kyle Drabek’s start for double-A Reading at Altoona last night.

The Jays have watched the Milwaukee Brewers’ affiliate at triple-A Nashville, where shortstop Alcides Escobar, 22, is hitting .298 with three homers and 29 RBIs with 33 steals in 91 games. Scouts compare Escobar to a young Derek Jeter … “without the intangibles.”

Third baseman Mat Gamel, who turns 24 this week, is hitting .336 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 33 games at Nashville.

The Jays also have scouted class-A Greenville, part of the Boston Red Sox organization. Kyle Evans, a second Sox scout, showed last night, joining scouts from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Brewers and the Phillies.

I’m starting to have the mindset that Halladay isn’t going anywhere. I think Toronto GM J.P. Riccardi is playing everyone. He’s dangling Halladay out there to see what kind of coup he can expect next year when he really has to trade Halladay before the ace becomes a free agent. If he gets a massive offer this year then obviously he’s going to listen, but I don’t think he’s going to get a massive offer and therefore Halladay is staying put for another year.

I just don’t think Riccardi is ready to trade his most popular player yet. I think he’s getting the fans ready for the enviable; Halladay will be traded next summer.

An argument against trading the farm (literally) for Halladay

Let’s say you’re the GM of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim/Hermosa Beach/San Mateo, California. Your club is currently in a battle with the Texas Rangers (who have an outstanding lineup by the way) in the AL West and you learn that Toronto, at the very least, is listening to offers for ace Roy Halladay.

Roy Halladay!

You’re beside yourself thinking of the possibilities of a starting rotation that features “the Doc,” John Lackey, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana. You think to yourself, “There’s no way the Rangers will be able to handle a rotation like that. In fact, there’s no way the Red Sox, the Yankees or even Moses himself could overcome that starting five!”

It’s true – Halladay is a bad man. He currently sports a 10-2 record with a 2.79 ERA and a dazzling 1.09 WHIP. He would make any good rotation great and any great rotation into a World Series-caliber machine. He’s that good and probably worth sacrificing future pieces for.

But considering Blue Jays’ GM J.P. Ricciardi is probably looking for an overwhelming deal (assuming he really is considering trading Halladay and this isn’t just one big media tease), is Halladay worth the price (both financially and in terms of prospects) for a year and a half? Remember, he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2010 season and given his age, he’s going to want to test the market to play for a contender of his choosing.

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Report: Roy Halladay on the block

According to a report by FOXSports.com, the Blue Jays are listening to offers for ace Roy Halladay.

“We have to see what’s out there,” Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi says. “I’m not saying we’re going to shop him. But if something makes sense, we at least have to listen. We’re (leaning) more toward listening than we’ve ever been.”

Ricciardi first made similar comments to CBS Sportsline, prompting immediate skepticism from one rival executive, who speculated that Halladay was either hurt or that the Jays were being forced to dump the pitcher’s salary.

Actually, the Jays’ motives are far less sinister.

They’re falling out of contention. They probably cannot afford to keep Halladay when they owe outfielders Vernon Wells and Alex Rios approximately $160 million combined from 2010 to ’14. And they know that Halladay would prefer to pitch for a winner anyway when he becomes a free agent after next season.

Oh, and one other thing: The trade market is barren of quality starting pitchers, much less one who is a true difference-maker, one of the top five starters in the game.

You can’t blame Ricciardi for at least kicking the tires on a potential deal. As the article notes, Halladay becomes a free agent in 2011 and will probably exit stage left anyway – so why not try to get a king’s ransom for him now?

FOX speculates that the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Mets, Rangers and Angels could all be in the market for Halladay, but it might be hard for New York or Boston to acquire the ace since they’re both in the AL East with Toronto. The Cubs might also not have enough quality farm pieces to acquire Halladay.

If the Rangers weren’t such a cheap organization, I think they would make the most sense. They have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball and are a couple of starters away from possibly gaining the edge on the Halos in the AL West. But owner Tom Hicks has never had the organization’s best interest at heart, would probably not want to pay Halladay’s salary for the next year and a half, and he’s in the midst of trying to sell the team. Still, maybe current president Nolan Ryan could convince Hicks and GM Jon Daniels to make a move.

The Dodgers are also intriguing because they’re already a World Series contender as is, but Halladay would essentially put them over the top and allow them to go toe to toe with anyone in either league. But would they be willing to give up an arm like Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw as part of a package to acquire Halladay? That’s doubtful.

Either way, let the Halladay trade speculation begin.

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