Halladay, Lee Worth the Obscene Price Tags
I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t believe that either Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee is likely to be traded before the July 31 deadline. It’s one of those things that just makes too much sense for the self respecting people who are involved to get done.
To start, we’ve got two teams in the very rare situation of being able to afford to deal their aces for a package of prospects without really hurting their short-term forecasts. The Blue Jays can’t feel like they will be competitive in the AL East next season with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays all at the height of their power. The Jays missed their opportunity to strike with Halladay when the AL East was just Boston and New York, and when they didn’t compete in 2007, it turned out to be the last realistic chance they had at making the postseason with Roy Halladay.
And for the Indians, they’re now looking at two consecutive seasons gone wrong in which Cliff Lee was the only bright spot. Unlike the Jays, they won’t be dead in the water next season on opening day, but there’s little doubt that based on where the team is now, if you can turn Cliff Lee into a package of prospects, then you do it.
So the ball is in the court of the rest of the league. Just last year, the Brewers made a bold move when they took Matt LaPorta and some lesser hyped prospects, and put together a package for CC Sabathia. It’s a move that took a team that had little business talking playoffs, and it got them into the postseason.
Both Lee and Halladay are more valuable to teams, especially teams in weak divisions, because both are prospectively under team control for the 2010 season. If you are the San Francisco Giants, or the Milwaukee Brewers, or St. Louis Cardinals, or California Angels, or Minnesota Twins, or Colorado Rockies, you have to do everything in your power to acquire these talents. It might put you over the top this year, and you might end up winning your division next year.
The package that the Blue Jays, reportedly, are asking for in exchange for Halladay involves 3 prospects including 2 who are near the top of the organizational charts. From the Phillies, they asked for OF Dominic Brown and P Kyle Drabek, as well as P J.A. Happ. Forget the fact that the Phillies are going to win their division this year without Halladay. Forget that they have legitimate reasons to protect their farm system for a minute. A package like that would steal Cliff Lee, and Halladay is the better pitcher of the two. The Blue Jays absolutely should be asking for the farm, and while the Phillies shouldn’t necessarily give in, it brings up the big question: where are all the other teams?
Those teams that can afford a package should do so. Roy Halladay brings instant credibility to your franchise. While the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies do not need this credibility boost, those are the names you are getting around Halladay. In my opinion, the two teams that absolutely need to get in on this are the Minnesota Twins, and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have more prospects than they can possibly fit in a major league lineup, and they can absolutely blow away the Indians with a package aimed at getting Cliff Lee. The Minnesota Twins had Johan Santana and traded him for prospects, but if they want to win the AL Central, Roy Halladay would make them the instant favorite.
Of course, a recent MLB Trade Rumors report suggests that Roy Halladay will not waive his no trade clause to be traded to the Twins, and all I can say about that is: this is good for the Indians. Halladay’s no trade clause has effectively driven up the price of Lee. Halladay’s value is already every bit as high as it’s ever been, but last year, it was Lee who won the Cy Young (over Halladay), and Lee’s been just as good this year.
If neither of them get traded, it’s a terrible, terrible day for fans of a majority of teams in baseball. Your team, whoever you root for, should be putting together an offer for one of the best pitchers in the American League. Instead, too many teams are content to stand pat, and try to win over the next two years with what they already have.
If you aren’t planning on competing in 2010, or you already are out this year or have your division locked up, it excuses you. But at least half the league doesn’t fall into that category, and too many teams are being hesitant on Halladay and Lee when they should be seizing the opportunity.