The Blue Jayssingle-handedly brightened a dreary trade market when they unexpectedly dangledace Roy Halladay, catching nearly everyone's attention, including even theGiants (who already have the game's best one-two pitching punch in Tim Lincecumand Matt Cain) and the Rangers (who are in the midst of an unsettled ownershipsituation and have cash-flow problems). Rating his potential impact on a scaleof 1 to 10, one interested executive says, "He's a 500."
Halladay'savailability was an eye-opener; what would be more surprising now is if he weretraded anywhere but Philadelphia. The Phillies badly need an arm, and they havethe other elements to make a deal: deep enough pockets to take on the balanceof the righthander's contract and a bevy of frontline prospects, the mostprized of which are righthander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Dominic Brown. Theother names in Philly's system being discussed are outfielder Michael Taylor,shortstop Jason Donald and pitcher Carlos Carrasco. The other contenders forHalladay, who is signed through 2010, could include the Giants, Dodgers,Angels, Cardinals, Brewers, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, White Sox andTigers.
While Halladay, 32,is the biggest prize of the shopping season, he isn't the only one. Here's aprimer before the July 31 trade deadline.
Cleveland is seriously considering moving the 2008 Cy Young winner despite areasonable $9 million option for next season. The Dodgers have interest in thelefty— who's been better than his 5--9 record at week's end indicates—and wouldlove to slot him into a postseason rotation with Chad Billingsley and ClaytonKershaw.
The Indians recently began scouting the stacked minor league system of the RedSox, who covet the Cleveland catcher. The Tribe would need an overwhelmingoffer to deal V-Mart, a clubhouse leader and consistent slugger at a premiumposition. One person familiar with the thinking of Cleveland's front officesaid while G.M. Mark Shapiro loves Martinez, the All-Star's departure would becushioned by the approaching arrival of switch-hitting Carlos Santana, one ofbaseball's best prospects.
The A's once envisioned recovering what they gave up to get the outfielder fromthe Rockies last winter (closer Huston Street, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez andlefty starter Greg Smith), but they didn't anticipate Holliday going through a33-game homer drought, which he ended last Friday. Oakland might be better offtaking the draft picks it would receive if Holliday becomes a free agent.
Acting Nationals G.M. Mike Rizzo said that he won't trade the 29-year-oldslugging outfielder, who's having a fine offensive season (23 home runs, .401OBP at week's end). Dunn, though, would be far more useful to an AL contender,which could use him at DH.
Holliday, Alex Rios and Jermaine Dye are outfielders on San Francisco's wishlist. But third base is the position that the club really needs to upgrade.
They may be in the market for a third baseman depending on the progress of MikeLowell, who returned from the DL last week with soreness in his right hip. Ifthey obtain the Nats' Nick Johnson, Kevin Youkilis could move to third, wherehe's played 24 games this season.
The rotation is solid, but the lineup still has holes. However, their tradelast month for centerfielder Nate McLouth ($5.25 million a year though 2011)supposedly left them tapped out.
Baseball's best club lacks an ace and would love Halladay or Lee. They are alsolooking for relief.
They tried to add the Rockies' Street and the Padres' Heath Bell to theirbullpen but were turned down. But with Phil Hughes thriving in the eighthinning, a starter makes more sense. Perhaps they will revisit Mariners leftyJarrod Washburn.
They want to bolster their rotation, but only on the cheap.
OFF-LIMITSPROSPECTS (THOUGH IF HALLADAY IS ON THE TABLE, WHO KNOWS?)
After the Red Sox recalled the righty from Triple A last week, he beat the BlueJays—then was sent back down. Boston execs say that his promotion was to rewardhim for a standout year in Triple A and to rest Boston's veteran starters, notto showcase him.
A White Sox person says the team wouldn't trade the 22-year-old middleinfielder straight-up for Padres ace Jake Peavy, who's been on the market sincelast winter.
Neftali Feliz andDerek Holland
"These are exactly the players Texas needs to keep now," consideringthe club's financial difficulties, says an AL exec. In addition to the twoyoung pitchers, don't expect third baseman Justin Smoak, the Rangers' top draftpick in 2008, to be on the block either.
Still a year or two away, the 19-year-old lefthander could give the Giants oneof the best pitching staffs in the game for years to come.
The Cardinals' third base prospect is a hitting machine and would most likelybe the centerpiece of any discussions with the Blue Jays regardingHalladay.
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DOC PHIL? Philly has all the ingredients to swing a deal for the Jays' ace.
JUST SAY CLAY Buchholz is a nice trade chip, but he could also be a postseason force for the Sox.