Halliday Could Spell Difference For Teams In Race

Published on: 11th July, 2009

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Halliday Is Prime Trade Bait   | read this item

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In the spring of 2002, Toronto second baseman Orlando Hudson made a crack about the style of Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, saying he dressed like a pimp.

He quickly found himself in the minor leagues, so it is with some satisfaction that Hudson eyes Ricciardi’s current dilemma — the need to trade Roy Halladay.

Hudson would love for the Toronto ace to wind up with his current team, the first-place Dodgers.

“It’s not a question of whether we need him,” Hudson said. “It’s a case of we want Roy Halladay.”

A lot of teams want Halladay, one of the few difference-making arms on the market. Gary Sheffield calls him one of the three best pitchers in the majors, and he’s a bargain under the terms of his current contract — a little less than $7 million left this season and $15.75 million in 2010.

He has no-trade rights, so he could demand a deal sweetener, but staying with the fourth-place Blue Jays isn’t such a great option for him. It will take a lot to get him, of course.

Think of the Brewers‘ four-for-one trade for C.C. Sabathia last season: It cost them outfielders Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley (both viewed as almost big-league ready) and pitchers Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson.

“It would take a lot for us to part with him,” Ricciardi said. “If you’re coming at us with a ‘B’ list of young players, don’t bother.”

With the trading deadline still almost three weeks away, there aren’t any clear-cut front-runners for his services. The Phillies and Red Sox were viewed as potentially aggressive pursuers, but those camps downplay their likely involvement. The Phillies are more likely to roll the dice on Pedro Martinez, whose signing is rumored to be close.

The Cubs don’t have the flexibility to get involved — and probably not the prospects to keep Ricciardi talking — but at least two teams in their division are in the picture. There’s interest in St. Louis and Milwaukee, although it’s hard to know how seriously to take either as a pursuer.

Finances often leave them as tire-kickers — surprisingly, that’s more true of the Cardinals than the Brewers — and this could be the same. Milwaukee appears a bad match as Toronto is looking for young pitching, and the Cardinals might not have the pieces to do a deal either.

Keep an eye on the White Sox. They could open some payroll space by dealing one of their right-handed relievers (Scott Linebrink or Octavio Dotel, most likely, but for a big enough price maybe Bobby Jenks) and have a lot of ways to structure a potential offer.

One way would be to build a package around Gavin Floyd, whose value has increased because of the contract extension he signed in March (four years, $15.5 million, with an option for 2013). Were the Jays to demand Gordon Beckham or Alexei Ramirez, that would be a deal killer — and needing a shortstop, Ricciardi might want one of those two — but almost anything else can be on the table.

Ricciardi supposedly would like to package 30-year-old center fielder Vernon Wells in a Halladay deal. That could blow up almost any potential trade, given Wells’ exorbitant contract and the way his hitting has slipped. But Wells, 30, could fit with the White Sox if Ricciardi agreed to pay a lot — half maybe? — of the $98.5 million he’s owed from 2010-14.

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