Cliff Lee Involved in Roy Halladay Deal?
FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal talks about a plausible scenario in which the Phillies trade Cliff Lee in a multi-team deal to acquire Roy Halladay. And you know what? I could see it happening.
Halladay likely would require a contract extension to waive his no-trade clause, which means the Phillies would have an ace locked up beyond 2010. It won’t be easy to extend Halladay, but I think it would be easier to extend him than Lee.
The Phillies met this week with Lee’s agent about an extension, but nothing is imminent. In fact, there is nothing to suggest progress has been made. I personally think Lee is intent on testing the free-agent market. In an August interview with The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Lee talked about the Indians’ decision not to negotiate an extension with him during spring training. He said it basically ruled out the possibility of discussing an extension after the 2009 season.
“It doesn’t make sense to do it one year out when I just watched what CC (Sabathia) did,” said Lee, referring to Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million contract.
If Lee hits the open market like he suggests he will, I don’t think the Phillies will re-sign him. He likely will sign elsewhere, and the Phillies will have just two compensatory draft picks to show for it. So I’m thinking the Phillies are looking at two scenarios:
- Trade Lee to get Halladay, who they sign to an extension.
- Keep Lee, don’t get Halladay and Lee walks after the 2010 season.
But why can’t they get Halladay without trading Lee? Prospects and payroll.
Rosenthal mentions that the Blue Jays might eat some of Halladay’s $15.75 million salary for a bigger haul of prospects. The Phillies might need the help. Trading Lee might allow them to keep their own top prospects like Domonic Brown, Kyle Drabek and even J.A. Happ, and still meet Toronto’s asking price. It also would provide them payroll relief. The Phillies’ payroll is pushing $140 million, which seems to be their limit. That might explain why the Phillies haven’t made much progress in finding bullpen help — they are trying to get pitchers under market value. And if you’re a pitcher, why would you do that? Maybe if the Phillies free up a few million dollars they can fortify a bullpen that has question marks with Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero recovering from elbow surgeries.
There are a lot of moving pieces and considerations here. Fascinating stuff, if that’s what needs to happen for Ruben Amaro Jr. to pull this off.
So what’s your choice, if the Phillies can only have Lee or Halladay in their rotation next year?
The Phillies have until 11:59 p.m. tonight to tender contracts to the following players or they become free agents: Blanton, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Chad Durbin and Clay Condrey. The Phillies are expected to offer contracts to all five.