Despite not even being a free agent, starting pitcher Roy Halladay may be the most talked about and hottest commodity of the winter.
The ace righty has already indicated to his club, the Toronto Blue Jays, that he intends to test the free agent waters after the 2010 season when his contract is up. This negates any chance that the Jays may have hoped to have to sign him to an extension this off season. While this is what they would like people to think, reality is I don’t believe they ever had any intention of doing this as it would have cost them a very large sum of money.
What the Jays will do now is precisely what they tried to do before the trade deadline last summer and that’s to move the ace to the highest bidder. While the price tag is steep, there are teams out there who are willing to unload their farm system in order to add one of the few elite pitchers in the game for an entire season and give them that much better of a chance to win a World Series.
Is Halladay worth depleting an organization’s farm system? Of course this depends on what exactly would be given in exchange for him, but I do believe he is the type of impact arm that can put a team over the top. Here’s a snapshot of my scouting report on him:
Halladay has a smooth, repeatable delivery with a low 3/4 arm slot. He has incredible command of his pitches including a low-90’s tailing fastball, very original change up and a tight curve with a huge bite that can be thrown at any point in the count. Halladay is a workhorse who has thrived in the toughest division in baseball for many, many years. What is scariest about him is how he seems to be getting better with age. The past two seasons he has posted 37 wins, a 2.79 ERA, 18 complete games in 66 games started and 414 strikeouts. Those are incredible numbers for this day in age.
As you can see, he is very much worth the steep price tag. This coupled with Halladay’s thirst to win a World Series and you have yourself a legit workhorse ace.
Now that we have established that Halladay isn’t interested in having his paychecks converted between Canadian and U.S. dollars anymore and that the Jays want to cash in on their potential future Hall of Famer, the question is now who will be able to pull the trigger?
Unfortunately for the state of baseball, the clubs that are most interested (and most willing and able to part with young talent and try to pony up a big time extension) are the normal cast of characters. The Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers are the teams most heavily linked. The only teams who are noticeably absent, the Los Angeles Angels (too many players to try to resign) and New York Mets (an absolute train wreck), are always wild cards and could jump in at any time. But are the others all realistic?
Looking at the remaining clubs, they too have issues that may stand in the way of getting a deal done. The Cubs appear out of the running as I don’t believe they have the young talent to package together nor do they have the money to spare as Halladay is owed $15.75 million in 2010. The Phillies system already took a hit last summer when they traded for Cliff Lee down the stretch which they were very hesitant in making in the first place. The Red Sox could potentially swing a deal but they too are leery of moving youngsters not to mention they want to either resign Jason Bay or add Matt Holliday to fill their left field void. That leaves the Yankees and Dodgers.
Thankfully for baseball the Yankees will most likely not be part of the bidding after spending $423 million on only three free agents last winter not to mention a few guys still needing to be resigned this off season. I guess that really only leaves the Dodgers who could use Halladay 10 times more than any of the other teams mentioned above. Halladay would give them an absolute legit veteran starting pitcher to take some of the pressure off youngsters like Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. Basically you’d be looking at the difference between just making the playoffs and making it to the World Series. It’s that big.
So for the sake of baseball, I really do hope that if and when Halladay is moved that he goes to a team other than the big money teams who already have multiple aces to begin with to help spread the wealth a little.
But I guess as long as he doesn’t go to the Yankees that it will be just fine with me.