A Timeline of How the Roy Halladay-to-Philadelphia Phillies Deal Was Done

December 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Roy Halladay is headed to Philly after all.
The Philadelphia Phillies acquired 32-year old starting pitcher Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-team trade with the Seattle Mariners. Halladay is among the elite in the pitching department in baseball, having made 65 starts and pitched 485 innings over the past two seasons alone, while winning 37 games over that span and 148 overall.
Safe to say, the Phillies, the World Series champion in 2008 and the National League’s representative in the 2009 World Series, just acquired the most durable and perhaps the best pitcher in the game. How did this happen?

It all started at Noon, Pacific Time, on Monday, Dec. 14 when Jim Salsbury of CSNPhilly.com reported that the Phillies were “actively talking” about a contract extension Halladay and his agent. At the time, this made little sense, given there had been no news of a trade taking place (one would have to be complete before a contract can be discussed).

Then, Salsbury reported, according to his source, that Halladay and his agent had checked into a hotel in Philadelphia, and that Halladay would take a physical, thereby putting the finishing touches on a trade that no in the media knew about. Who would be in the deal? What kind of contract was Halladay going to sign?

Cliff Lee, whom Philadelphia wouldn’t have been able to sign long term, headed to the Great Northwest, to Seattle.

Rumors went flying, as all of the sportswriters from media outlets, and those covering the teams, began to cite sources and speculate. Salsbury began the circus, reporting that there were “indications that pitcher Cliff Lee could be traded.”


An hour after Salsbury’s initial report, Sports Illustrated ’s Jon Heyman added excitement to the story, tweeting that “a three-way trade has been agreed to with Halladay going to the Phillies and Lee to the [Seattle] Mariners. The Phillies are now trying to sign Roy to an extension.”

Hold your horses:  In a subsequent tweet , Heyman apologizes for a “quick trigger finger” and says “[The] Mariners [are]  definitely the third team. Checking now [if] Cliff Lee is the pitcher they get.” On top of that, MLB.com’s Noah Coslov reported that a deal had not been confirmed by Lee or the Mariners.

Were Heyman and Salsbury just bored? They knew the Phillies had inquired about Halladay in the past. Was this just a fabrication? They thought they had confirmation, then they it turned out they didn’t. Lee knew nothing about an impending deal. This could have been a rouse just to fire up the Hot Stove.

Prospects were named, going every which way, the likes of Heyman, and FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal and John Morosi “heard.”

At first, the deal was structured as this: Halladay would go to the Phillies, Lee would join the Mariners, and the Blue Jays would obtain Mariners catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud , either Dominic Brown or Michael Taylor , two touted outfield prospects in Philadelphia’s system, and another player. Mariners pitching prospect Phillippe Aumont was named as a candidate to be that other player.

The Phillies didn’t want to part with Kyle Drabek, but in order to trade for Halladay, they had to part with the gifted right-hander.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark then reported Philadelphia was trying to complete a two-team deal for Halladay with Toronto, and that the Mariners only entered the fray when the Phillies refused to include prized pitching prospect Kyle Drabek in the deal, someone they refused to include during their midseason discussions as well.

Then came two reports that proved to be false, hurting the credibility of so-called “sources.” “People” told Bob Eliot of the Toronto Sun Aumont would not be part of the deal, and Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press wrote that Philadelphia starting pitchers J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton, and Brown took physicals, and could be part of the trade.

Not surprisingly, Aumont was in fact part of the trade, while none of Happ, Blanton, and Brown were included.

Salsbury, having not said a peep since the initial report, stated six hours after the fact that Drabek and “other [Phillies] prospects” will be involved . Philadelphia anted up to include a pitcher of such talent, but they would make up for the loss.

Not only would they acquire Halladay, but Aumont, Mariners outfield prospect Tyson Gillies and pitching prospect Juan Ramirez —two players previously unmentioned–as well. This is their haul for Lee, a pretty solid one at that.

The deal was set. The Phillies would obtain Halladay and the aforementioned prospects off Seattle’s farm. The Mariners would obtain one year of Lee, and that’s it. And the Blue Jays, the team that asked for a King’s ransom midseason, would acquire Drabek, D’Arnaud, and Taylor. Halladay followed by signing a three-year extension through 2013 (with an option for 2014) worth $60 million, considered a bargain for his services.

Michael Taylor, a power hitter who is ready to play in the majors. Leave it to Beane to snag him.

The deal was set, but not complete. It wouldn’t be a blockbuster for the ages without Billy Beane joining in on the fun. The Oakland Athletics General Manager, knowing Taylor wasn’t high on Toronto’s list, tempted the Blue Jays with third baseman prospect Brett Wallace, whom Beane acquired in the midseason trade that sent Matt Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Toronto agreed, and Taylor, a 6′6,″ 240-pound, 23-year old with incredible power, became a member of the A’s.



The Phillies couldn’t afford to trade for Halladay and keep Lee. Believe me, if their payroll would allow, both veteran aces would be atop their rotation for years to come. Acquiring Halladay alone would have been a poor move by Philadelphia, so General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was a genius to include the Mariners in the deal.

He used Drabek after all, but acquired three great prospects: Aumont is near major-league ready, and could be installed into their currently shaky bullpen; Gilles is just 21-years old, and is a ways off, but he has tremendous speed and a bit of power; Ramirez has excellent velocity on his fastball, but though he is a project, if he learns how to pitch instead of throw, and continues to develop secondary pitches, he has the talent to be a starting pitcher atop a rotation a few years down the road.

The Blue Jays don’t get as much as they would have liked for Halladay, but still, the trio they acquired were coveted for a reason. They wanted a major-league ready catcher in any deal, but D’Arnaud doesn’t fit the bill. He’s talented, but he’s only 20-years old, and his highest minor league level is High-A ball.

Look for him to suit up behind the plate for the Jays come 2011. Drabek, 23, has electric stuff worthy of a top-pitching prospect. He might need another year in the minors, but could be called up midseason if all goes well. He’s that good.

The Mariners acquired one year of Lee. This gives them perhaps the best one-two punch in the majors, as he joins Felix Hernandez atop their rotation. But it’s only for one year. Seattle has to lock up Hernandez long term, and may not have enough to sign Lee to an extension as well.

One year of Lee for three prospects? I’m not sure that’s a good move, considering there are still many vastly superior American League teams. On the bright side, they didn’t have to include pitcher Brandon Morrow or outfielder Michael Saunders, their second-ranked prospect.

And finally, Beane once again made an intelligent move. Wallace (whom the Blue Jays will plug in at first base) will be very good in Toronto, but the A’s acquired a stellar athlete in Taylor. Knowing Beane, Taylor will be used right away, given the General Manager’s infatuation with young, major-league ready talent.

Two aces and eight prospects traded, and many other names speculatively bandied about. In all, what a trade.

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