Phillies won't give up Drabek for Halladay; Cliff Lee on the block?
This raises the chances that Halladay will be dealt elsewhere or maybe stay put
Something happened recently to make Cleveland seriously consider trading Lee
Gary Sheffield's lame injury excuse and trade talk around the majors
The latest word from a source familiar with Philadelphia's thinking is that the front-running Phillies have decided they will not include top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek in a four-player package for superstar pitcher Roy Halladay, perhaps raising the chances that Halladay will be dealt elsewhere or maybe even stay with the Jays. The Phillies are believed to have told Toronto of their Drabek decision, but if they haven't yet they will inform the Jays very soon.
Philadelphia has a bevy of respectable prospects, but opinions around baseball vary as to how decent the deal might be for Toronto without the inclusion of Drabek. The two teams have been discussing prospects, including outfielder Michael Taylor, shortstop Jason Donald and pitcher Carlos Carrasco. One AL exec flatteringly referred to Taylor as "a beast," but another competing executive opined that Toronto would be unwise to deal with Philly and fail to come away without either Drabek or Jason Knapp, another pitching prospect. Yet another exec says they absolutely have to receive outfielder Dominic Brown if they can't get Drabek. In any case, the Phillies appear to be drawing a line below Drabek, and with them starting to run away in the NL East thanks to nine straight victories, it's almost understandable. Their need doesn't appear to be quite so urgent now.
Meanwhile, the Jays were getting nowhere with the Mets, whose interest in Halladay may be tempered by the fact that they aren't exactly in the thick of the race. Sources indicate that the Mets rebuffed a request of top outfield prospect Fernando Martinez, young pitchers Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell plus talented young shortstop prospect Ruben Tejada. A Mets person said several days ago that they are intent on doing anything to avoid "mortgaging our future," although two competing executives suggested the Mets should either do that deal or try to rework it slightly. In any case, it appears that the Mets' prospect list isn't as thin as some suggest, as even in that proposal they'd be keeping top young pitchers Jenrry Mejia and Brad Holt and shortstop prodigy Wilmer Flores.
The point may be moot since Halladay, who has suggested it's time for him to try to win, might not be eager to accept a trade to a team such as the Mets that is nine games out in its division while also trailing eight other teams in the wild-card race. Mets execs understand that, considering their dreadful injury situation, their team isn't just one player away this year. However, one important thing Halladay could do for the Mets is help them change the season's dreary story of pain and suffering, if only for a while.
The Giants, Brewers, Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Red Sox, White Sox and Tigers are among Halladay pursuers with a better chance at the playoffs than the Mets. As is the case with the Mets, the Angels are yet another team that is said to be reluctant to trade their best prospects, which has been their way for a long time. The same appears to be the case for the Red Sox, who are absolutely stacked with pitching prospects. All teams are starting to put an extreme premium on their better prospects, as well, so moving Halladay, who is arguably baseball's best pitcher (it's either him or Johan Santana), for fair value may not be easy as one might think.
Halladay seems ready to go judging by his remarks at the All-Star Game in St. Louis, making the situation somewhat stickier. As an acquaintance of Halladay said, "For him to be so forthright (in St. Louis), he's emotionally gone. He's a very guarded person. If he wasn't going in his mind, he'd just say, let's talk about the All-Star Game."
That acquaintance said he believed Halladay favors winning first but would also prefer to train in Florida (he lives in Dunedin, Fla., the Jays' spring home, so the Phillies and Yankees would be most convenient). He also said that while Halladay prefers quiet, the acquaintance doesn't see how he'd rebuff an attempt to go to the Phillies, Red Sox or Yankees if given the chance. That person also saw the Cardinals, with Halladay's great friend Chris Carpenter, as a team Halladay would approve. Halladay, who makes $14.25 million this year and is to make $15.75 million in 2010, has full no-trade veto power.
But if the trade offers don't improve, Halladay might not have a chance to make the call. One person with the Jays suggested he believes the chances for a deal are now "less than 50-50," which is the numerical assessment they've been saying publicly.
And according to one competing executive, "(Blue Jays president) Paul Beeston doesn't want to do it unless he's overwhelmed."
There are still 10 days to go before the deadline, but so far it doesn't look like anyone's jumping forward to overwhelm them.
Halladay may soon have company on trading block
The Indians appear to be more seriously considering the possibility of trading star pitcher Cliff Lee in recent days, according to an Indians-connected person. Indians people have been very reluctant to deal Lee all along since they have a reasonable $9 million option on him for next year and no obvious, certain top-of-the-rotation replacement.
Something apparently happened in recent days to change their thinking and make them slightly more receptive to a trade, though it's unclear exactly what. The Indians have already traded Mark DeRosa and are talking to teams about some of their other players, including reliever Rafael Betancourt. They'd probably like to trade closer Kerry Wood and starter Carl Pavano, but it's doubtful any team would take either of those two contracts.
Former Indians star CC Sabathia said that he could more easily see Cleveland trade Lee than Victor Martinez. Sabathia remarked that GM Mark Shapiro loves Martinez in particular. But as one Indians person pointed out, "(Shapiro) loves Martinez almost as much as he loved Sabathia." Implicit in that remark is that Shapiro dealt Sabathia last summer.
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