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Posted: Tuesday December 8, 2009 12:53PM; Updated: Tuesday December 8, 2009 1:40PM
Jon Heyman

Felix is looking for a King's ransom, and he probably deserves it

Story Highlights

Felix Hernandez is reportedly seeking about $100 million for six years

Don't rule out the Blue Jays trading Roy Halladay at this summer's trade deadline

Jason Bay's biggest suitors appear to be the Mariners, Angels and Red Sox

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Felix Hernandez
Seattle ace Felix Hernandez finished second in American League Cy Young voting this season, going 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA.
Rod Mar/SI

INDIANAPOLIS -- Superstar pitcher Felix Hernandez's intention to request about $100 million for six years in contract talks might surprise some folks in that other young star pitchers have sought far less. Zack Greinke took a $38 million, four-year contract with the Royals and Josh Johnson was reported to request about $45 million for four years from the Marlins.

But King Felix is a special case. And baseball people understand that.

"The Mariners should sign up for that right now,'' one baseball executive at this week's winter meetings said of the $100 million figure.

"That number is too low,'' one competing agent said (although, admittedly, competing agents always think the other guy is settling).

The thing is, Hernandez is only 23 years old, he went 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA last year, and his overall numbers were only a smidgen behind Cy Young winner Greinke's. And that's at an age when top prospects are often just breaking into Triple-A or still in Double-A.

The way Hernandez's camp arrived at the $100 million figure is that the ace right-hander should get roughly $10 million this year in arbitration, then maybe $15 million the next year, followed by four free-agent years at around $20 mil. The $20 million is calculated by taking the $23 million salary of baseball's best-paid pitchers, CC Sabathia and Johan Santana, and shaving off a few million.

That would come to $105 million. But since Felix made $3.8 million last year, he could probably be enticed by the flat $100 mil figure.

Halladay won't be easy to move, but don't rule out summer trade

Trading Roy Halladay still isn't going to be easy a half-year later. Complications include his no-trade clause, a contract that expires after this year, the understandably high value placed on him by the Blue Jays and the rising value of prospects in the game.

With that in mind, the Blue Jays might consider dealing Halladay at the trade deadline this summer if they can't get it done over the winter. Halladay's agents set a deadline of spring training in order to avoid the distraction that last year's public selloff inspired, and that makes sense from their perspective. Last summer was no fun for Halladay or his teammates. But the reality is that the new Jays regime, headed by 32-year-old GM Alex Anthopoulos, intends to be much quieter than the previous one, so quiet, in fact, that Anthopoulos might be able to pull off a trade without last summer's circus-like atmosphere.

Fairly little is known about the Halladay talks thus far (that's the new Jays leaders being quiet), but Toronto has particular interest in pitching, a shortstop and a catcher, and there are believed to be four main contenders. The Mets are also known to have checked in (but no one believes that Halladay would approve a trade to the Mets, considering the season they had last year). These are the frontrunners right now:

1. Yankees. The Jays like Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, neither of whom is solidly a starting pitcher for the Yankees (both have been told that they'll prepare this spring as if they'll start), and also catcher Jesus Montero and outfielder Austin Jackson. The Yankees have the money and the inclination to trade for Halladay.

2. Red Sox. There's a sense that some of their people might actually prefer to spend on free-agent pitcher John Lackey and perhaps use their big chips, including right-hander Clay Buchholz, to trade for a productive hitter such as Adrian Gonzalez. Offensive production has to be their first priority, especially until they can fill left field (Jason Bay and Matt Holliday are the best free-agent options there). The Red Sox are having Casey Kelly concentrate on pitching full-time, and they don't appear anxious to trade him. "He has a chance to be special as a pitcher,'' one scout said.

3. Angels. Word is, a Halladay trade could revolve around lefty Joe Saunders. The most natural assumption is that the Jays prefer prospects, but the reality is that they will consider the deal that brings the most "value.'' Catcher Mike Napoli could also interest them. The Angels absolutely will not do a deal without an extension, and it's uncertain whether Halladay wants to lock himself up long-term for a team that trains in Arizona (his winter home is in Oldsmar, Fla.).

4. Phillies. Bullpen is their main priority, but they are an aggressive team with a lot of loot coming off the books (Adam Eaton, Geoff Jenkins and Brett Myers). One person connected to the Phillies says that they won't trade Cole Hamels, who turns 26 this month, for the 32-year-old Halladay (and they made clear that they won't give up a package of Dominic Brown, Kyle Drabek and J.A. Happ, either).

One extreme longshot team in the Halladay derby is the Rays, who kicked tires with the Blue Jays about their ace. A person familiar with the talks said it's "extremely unlikely" that Halladay ends up in Tampa Bay.

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