By Jon Lane
Roy Halladay is open to the idea of playing for the Yankees, telling the media yesterday his “priority would be winning” and not a hefty contract extension. Halladay not only has a full no-trade clause, he added he’d be fine with pitching in the homer haven that’s become the new Yankee Stadium and the added pressure of playing in New York.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of media people that wouldn’t love me,” Halladay said during a press conference that announced him as tonight’s starter for the AL All-Star team. “But I think, for me, I’ve always been able to separate field from off-field. I’ve realized that I can’t make everybody happy all of the time. Sometimes, that includes media … We’ll try and do the best I can, but that’s always the way I’m going to be.”
The roadblocks are economics – Halladay makes $14.25 million this year and $15.75 million next year before being eligible for free agency in November 2010 – and the thought of the Blue Jays trading their best pitcher to a division rival.
The Yankees are not optimistic that they’ll land the 32-year-old right-hander, writes Ken Davidoff, who adds the Phillies are generally regarded as the favorites. But what they have to offer (along with the Phillies) is a chance to win a World Series and the ability to blow J.P. Riccardi away with a strong package out of their farm system. The Yankees aren’t getting Halladay for Ian Kennedy and Andrew Brackman. Figure on the Jays asking for Phil Hughes (and that’s for starters), but I have a proposal that just might work.
Joba Chamberlain, Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero. (I may even throw in Kennedy if a suitor isn’t scared off by an aneurysm that will keep him out until next year.)
Anytime you surrender top prospects it’s a major risk that at least one becomes a superstar. But in this case, give me production over potential any day. Halladay remains in the prime of his career, and unlike Johan Santana there isn’t a risk that health will betray him in a middle of a long-term contract. Hughes’ lights-out performance in the bullpen looks like it’ll launch him into a long career as a front-line starter. Chamberlain’s struggles have his stock dropping a bit, but not to where teams will be turned off completely. The Blue Jays can still develop him as a starter, away from New York’s bright lights and endorsement temptations, or say forget that, let’s make him our closer.
Jackson is being hyped as a franchise center fielder, but as my colleague Glenn Giangrande wrote last week, Lastings Milledge was once a can’t-miss outfield prospect, and right now the Yankees are receiving surprising contributions from both Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera. Montero has grand potential written all over him too, but there’s no guarantee he’ll remain a catcher. Even if he does, wouldn’t you take your chances on Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine once (or if) Jorge Posada retires at the end of his contract in 2011 if it meant getting Halladay?
Kevin Kernan made his pro-Halladay case today too, going as far to remind everyone that the Red Sox once traded Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. That won them a World Series in 2007 and it took guts. The Yankees may have to learn from history.