The Roy Halladay Question

AL's best pitcher may be on the market

It's been a very slow sports week, which means there's a lot of time for noodling around ideas that would normally have to compete for space with actual games. Nothing makes a better example of this than the Roy Halladay to the Bronx rumors which have camped out on back pages and columns all week.

That the Blue Jays are open to trading their best pitcher, who can be a free agent after the 2010 season, is the only fact readily agreed upon. Some think that the Jays won't trade him within the division, others say they'll deal him anywhere but only with the overpaid Vernon Wells attached and still others think that Halladay isn't going anywhere at all. All are plausible, because there are pros and cons to the Blue Jays in each scenario.

That flies in the face of a popular notion among fans that if you pile up enough marginal players, you'll eventually equal a Halladay. Melky Cabrera, Ian Kennedy and three other nobodies isn't going to get the deal done, unless the Jays are hellbent on losing Wells' contract and content to lose game after game at an empty Rogers Centre. If that's the case, great, but it seems awfully unlikely.

The Yankees will have to give up something that hurts, something Peter Abraham of the Lohud Yankees Blog touched on when he said the Yankees should offer Joba Chamberlain, Jesus Montero and a third good prospect for Halladay's services. His reasoning on getting Halladay is sound -- it would make the Yankees a presumptive favorite in the American League -- but it's a virtual replay of the question that the Yankees faced when offered a chance at Johan Santana before last season.

Brian Cashman balked at trading the future for the present at that point, but part of that reasoning was that either Santana or CC Sabathia would be a free agent before the 2009 season. There's no one like Halladay hitting the market after 2010, though, and the Yankees will have to think long and hard about letting him go to the Phillies or another team that would surely sign him to a long-term extension.

If that's what the deal comes down to, the Yankees should strongly pursue it. Chamberlain doesn't appear to be progressing, nor does he seem to be overly interested in working with the Yankee coaches to make changes. Montero is currently a catcher who can hit, but projects as a designated hitter which is much less valuable in the long run. Short of including Phil Hughes or center fielder Austin Jackson as the third player, it's hard to come up with an iron-clad argument that the Yankees won't be better off for the next two to four years with Halladay than the players they'd be dealing.

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