UPDATE (7/8/09): With talks between the Phillies and Jays presumably set to begin – or already underway – I figured I’d bump this post to keep up with the Halladay news. Good to know this actually has a chance of coming true after all, even if the prospect landscape has changed drastically from the scenarios thought out below. Come on, Rube! This is your chance to shine!
Please, if you’re going to comment, keep the timeline in mind. Watching Jack Taschner pitch for three months was bad enough, don’t make the aneurysm worse.
2/22/09: There isn’t too much to talk about between now and opening day, so with a bit of downtime, I figured I’d evaluate the possibility of Toronto ace Roy Halladay ending up in CBP sometime in 2009. Halladay’s name was recently dropped in potential trade rumors – along with Arizona ace Brandon Webb – of players that would command incredible trade value but may still be on the block come July (the recent injury to centerfielder Vernon Wells won’t do much to quiet that talk, either).
As it stands right now, Roy Halladay is one of the five best pitchers in baseball. The numbers back it up. He’s consistently underrated, however, and that’s something that could work in the favor of a contender looking to deal for Halladay in July.
It’s not as if Halladay is easily affordable, however. He has two years remaining on his current contract, and will earn $14.25M this season and $15.75M in 2010. This comes on top of the expense of talent and prospects that would need to be shipped over in any deal.
A high price? To be sure. Worth it? Even more so.
First, let’s take a deeper look at just what kind of player we’re talking about in Roy Halladay. He’ll be 32 in May, but he’s still well entrenched in his prime. Over the past four seasons, Halladay has pitched 833 innings with a 3.08 ERA and a 585:139 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He may not be overpowering, but with a walk rate of just 1.50 per nine innings over that span, a little less power is welcome.
For reference, there have been 64 player seasons in the past four years where pitchers had fewer than two walks per nine innings pitched. All four of Roy Halladay’s seasons are among those 64, and three of those are in the top 20. That includes the 5th-, 17th-, and 18th-lowest during that time.
You get the idea. The man has superb control. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2002, Halladay has made 30 or more starts five times. Durability is not really of concern. Keep in mind, also, that Halladay has spent his entire career pitching for Toronto in the A.L. East, a division stacked with powerful lineups – and the DH.
Imagine what a pitcher like Roy Halladay could do pitching in the National League. We’ve already seen what Johan Santana can do, and it’s not too outlandish to assume Halladay could come close to replicating that sort of production.
What would the Phillies have to give up to land him? Do they even have the prospects and talent necessary to make a deal happen?
The answers: a lot, and yes. In addition to parting with prospect Carlos Carrasco – a near certainty – the Phillies would have to include at least another top prospect plus some proven Major League talent. One of the farm system’s top catchers – either Lou Marson or Travis D’Arnaud – would have to go, as well as either Shane Victorino or Jayson Werth, most likely.
That wouldn’t be all that’s required, but it’s certainly a starting point.
Say a deal went down. Say the Phillies traded Carrasco, Werth/Victorino, Travis D’Arnaud and Kyle Drabek to Toronto in exchange for Halladay. What would the team look like?
If Werth were in the deal, the Phils would lose their only proven right-handed outfield bat. The outlook on offseason acquisition John Mayberry, Jr. would have to be high, as he would be the likely replacement. Mayberry would work in a three-man platoon with Geoff Jenkins and Matt Stairs, and from a defensive standpoint, that’s a bit scary to think about.
Most scouting profiles are lukewarm on Mayberry’s defense, as he is valued more for power potential. Jenkins was terrible in right field last year, and Matt Stairs isn’t very mobile at all.
If Victorino were to go, the Phillies’ outfield defense would be in an even more dire situation, not to mention the sudden lack of speed after Rollins in the lineup.
In D’Arnaud, the Phillies have a catching prospect that is more highly regarded than Lou Marson. D’Arnaud turned 20 on Feb. 10, and made his way to High-A Lakewood after posting an .834 OPS in Williamsport. Marson, obviously, is ready to contribute at the Major League level now, while D’Arnaud remains about three season away.
Drabek, son of former Major League pitcher Doug Drabek, is highly touted despite limited playing time. In just 109.1 IP in three years since being drafted, Drabek has a 4.45 ERA, with 76 strikeouts to 46 walks. Not overly impressive. It’s worth mentioning, though, that Drabek was incredibly ineffective in rookie ball, and has since looked modestly impressive in stints at both levels of A-ball. He is coming off Tommy John surgery, however, and his health would be a bit of a concern for the Jays’ front office.
In return, the Phillies’ rotation for August and September would be Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton. The lineup would be weakened significantly, but with that kind of staff, seven runs a game won’t be necessary.
Werth is signed affordably this year and next, and Victorino is still working on year-by-year arbitration deals for the next two seasons after 2009. After unloading Halladay’s $15M, salary won’t be an issue for Toronto.
It’s an interesting thing to ponder. The Phillies are coming off a World Series win, but it never hurts to stay competitive. And if staying competitive means being able to land one of the best pitchers in baseball for a year and a half, well, that may be a chance worth taking.