CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Midseason Review (07/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospectus Today: A Mo... (07/07)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Brea... (07/10)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (07/09)

July 9, 2009

Prospectus Today

Packaging the Canadian Ace

by Joe Sheehan

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

On Tuesday afternoon the Blue Jays' general manager, J.P. Ricciardi, said that while he's not shopping the pitcher, he will listen to offers for ace Roy Halladay. This is the only sensible approach. Ricciardi's team was one of the six best in baseball last year, and never really appeared in a race for a post-season berth. It's one of the seven or eight best teams in baseball this year…and is nevertheless the fourth-best team in its own division. It's likely to be fourth-best in its division next year. Despite some young talent on hand, the competition level of the AL East means that Ricciardi has to try and build the best team in baseball, and his current core, even with Halladay and some young players, won't become that team. Trading Halladay is his way to do what the Rangers did by trading Mark Teixeira, and accelerate the construction of a championship-caliber roster.

There's no question that Halladay is a Teixeira-type player, arguably even more valuable. While his stat lines don't show durability, a number of his recent injuries have been flukes rather than reflective of fragility. If he's not the best pitcher in baseball, he's on the short list for the honor. Like Teixeira at the time of that trade, Halladay is signed through next season, making him an even more attractive trade option than, say, CC Sabathia was a year ago.

Now, you'd normally try and figure out which teams have the prospects and the motivation to make an offer for a pitcher such as Halladay. This is complicated slightly by the fact that three of those teams-the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays-reside in the AL East with the Jays. It's not out of the question to suggest that Ricciardi would deal Halladay within the division, but it's probably in his mind to send him out of the AL East-and perhaps out of the AL altogether-if he can. None of those three teams has a burning need for a starting pitcher, though Halladay would front all of their rotations, and all could assemble a package that would rival what the Braves assembled when they traded for Teixeira. Outside of the division, you'd look at the Rangers, in a dogfight in the AL West and in dire need of a true number-one starter, with staggering amounts of pitching in their system. The Cardinals and Braves could assemble competitive offers, but both teams have such dire need for a bat that trading for Halladay would likely be off of their radars. The same goes for the Giants, and to a lesser extent the Marlins. Certainly every team in baseball could use a Roy Halladay, but some would be better off allocating resources elsewhere.

Let's run at this from another direction. What if a team offered the Blue Jays not its very best prospects, but offered it the kind of payroll relief that would pay off for years to come? What if a team took Vernon Wells off of its hands?

When the Blue Jays signed Vernon Wells after the 2006 season, it was very clearly a case of buying high. The center fielder was coming off his age-27 season, his fifth as a full-time player, and just his second of those with an OBP above .340. Wells' core skills showed him to be a good-not-great player, whose value was buoyed by excellent defense in center field, but lacking the on-base skills to be a true middle-of-the-order anchor, and with speed that was more perceived than actual (he was at 53/15 SB/CS to that point in his career). The contract was doomed the moment it was signed, massively backloaded to make it affordable to the team, but ensuring that Wells would eventually be an albatross. Here's what's left on it after this year:

2010: $12.5 million + $8.5 million share of signing bonus
2011: $23 million
2012: $21 million
2013: $21 million
2014: $21 million

That's five years and $107 million, or about $11 million less than what's left on Johan Santana's contract. It's just a bit less than what Sabathia will make in those years. It's more than what's left on the laughingstock contracts signed by Alfonso Soriano and Barry Zito. If it's not the worst contract in the game, it's certainly in the discussion, and it threatens the Jays' payroll for the next half-decade. Wells has rarely been worth $10 million in a season; the chance that he'll be worth $21 million in any remaining season of his career is basically nil, and there's some chance he won't be worth that much in all five years combined. Just to look at one data point via MORP, PECOTA projects Wells to be worth $14.3 million… in those five seasons combined.

As you would expect from a player who wasn't terribly fast entering his thirties, Wells' range in center field is declining. The Jays will soon have to choose between making Wells a below-average center fielder or an average to average-plus corner man. Should they move him, though, his bat will be even more a relative handicap. Wells' career line of .282/.330/.475, given the era and park in which he's played, would be adequate in a corner. There's not much reason to think he can match those numbers going forward, however. He hasn't had an OBP of .350 or a SLG of .500 since that 2006 season that earned him the ridiculous contract. Give their young core, the number of expiring contracts they have and their likely path after a Halladay trade, Wells could be consuming a third of the payroll by Opening Day 2011 while hitting like a fourth outfielder.

How much would it be worth to a team to bite that bullet? If Wells were worth $14.3 million while making $107 million, Halladay would have to be worth more than $90 million in the next year and a half to balance it out. That's probably not reasonable. What is? Halladay has been worth 3.7 WARP in a bit more than a half-season, while missing a couple of starts along the way. PECOTA projected him to be worth 5.2 wins, or about 2.7 to date. Let's split the difference and suggest that Halladay is worth about three wins to whatever team trades for him-a conservative estimate given that he'd probably be replacing sub-replacement performance-and five wins next season. That's eight all told, which means the marginal value of each win would have to be about $12.5 just to make taking on Wells' contract a breakeven proposition, and before considering Halladay's salary and any prospects required to close the deal.

You can't get there. The peak of the marginal-win graph was $4.5 million back in 2006, as published in Baseball Between the Numbers. I can make a case for pushing that number higher, to about $5.5 million, maybe $6 million at the outside, given the increased industry revenues and the possibility that individual teams may have steeper curves. Teams with particularly weak outfields, such as the Braves or Mets, would potentially see a boost from adding Wells that a typical team wouldn't. These bumps could make Halladay and Wells worth something shy of $50 million to their new team, or about $40 million less than the expected loss on Wells' deal. I cannot get to the value of Wells' contract; I'm stretched to get to half.

Now, you can play with the numbers, push Halladay's projection higher, push Wells' projection higher, maybe estimated high marginal revenues (if a team with a lot of room to grow, such as the Rangers, were to acquire him and reach the postseason). Still, I think it's fair to say that the economic case for taking Vernon Wells in a Roy Halladay deal is weak, and again, this ignores the probably need to include at least some talent in return.

This actually strengthens the case for the Jays trying to do this kind of deal. Wells is a massive albatross, a roadblock to the construction of a championship team-he's clearly not good enough to build around-and a payroll sink. Virtually no single prospect they can get back in a deal is going to provide more value than the $20 million a year they would get back by dumping Wells into a Halladay trade. A package of prospects that hits, like the one the Rangers got for Teixeira, could make up that value; of course, sometimes you try to make that trade and you get Carlos Gomez and nothing.

All of this sidesteps Vernon Wells' no-trade clause, which may be the largest barrier to a deal. Then again, if you offer Wells a chance to go with Halladay to a contender, he might be willing to waive it. He has no option year to guarantee, and given how bad his contract is, no team is going to extend it just for the privilege of taking it on. If this type of deal were available, you'd probably have to rely on Wells wanting to play for a winning team, wanting to go with Halladay to a contender, and to not be perceived as the player who blocked a positive-if likely unpopular-step for the Jays.

Given all of this, which teams would come to the forefront in bidding for Halladay?

  • The Mets: One of the wealthier teams in baseball, they clearly have the cash to invest in assuming Wells' contract, and with both the injury to Carlos Beltran and the absence of other major league outfielders around, they'll get more value from adding him than just about any other team. Halladay would join Santana to become the most dangerous one-two punch in baseball since Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson in 2001. The trade would vault the Mets back into the favorite spot in the NL East, and quite possibly make them the only viable challenger to the Dodgers in the NL. They'd have to include Fernando Martinez even if they took Wells back, which would be a killer.

  • The Phillies: Not typically listed with the bluebloods, the Phillies are a high-revenue, big-market team coming off a championship, and playing in a relatively new ballpark. Halladay would be exactly what they need, given the drop-off in their rotation after Cole Hamels. Wells is a less-perfect fit, as they have a set starting outfield, although as we've seen, middling AL outfielders can go to Philadelphia and become very big contributors. If nothing else, Wells would enhance their bench and provide off-season options, such as trading Jayson Werth for pitching help. The Phillies seem more likely to make a traditional deal centered on one of their outfield prospects, Michael Taylor or Dominic Brown, and some young pitching.

  • The Red Sox and Yankees: Any time a great player becomes available, these two teams will be mentioned. In this case, while any team could use a Halladay, and both could probably assume the obligation to Wells, neither seems a likely destination. The Sox already have more starting pitchers than they know what to do with, and have plenty of outfielders. The Yankees don't have quite the same starting pitching depth, but it's a strength, and they made so many financial commitments through the early 2010s last winter than another may be unlikely. Throw in that Ricciardi is probably motivated to trade Halladay to any other team, and neither seems like a strong player in this race.

  • The Rangers: I like this one myself. At some point the Rangers will have to convert their prospect depth into major league players, and this is one way to do that. They would probably have to deal one of Derek Holland or Neftali Feliz, but then they could pull from further down their list and create a stronger package than anything most teams could assemble. If taking Wells had to happen, they could use him in the same way they've used Marlon Byrd this season, turning him into a fourth outfielder who plays a lot, and making sure he never talks to Julio Borbon about approach at the plate. A roster deep in young players would allow them to take the payroll hit for a while.

Every team in baseball could use Roy Halladay. Just one will end up with him. That team is probably going to be one with a deep farm system, but a willingness to be creative and to solve the organization's single biggest problem might go further than a long list of prospects. A contract as damaging as Wells' is rare-it is what people thought the Alex Rodriguez contract was-and it's so bad that the Jays actually have to consider the idea that trading it away, rather than acquiring prospects, is the end goal of shopping Roy Halladay.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

71 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Duranimal

Isn't Hicks, the owner of the Rangers, having huge financial difficulties? Doesn't seem like the Rangers are a true option.

Jul 08, 2009 18:04 PM
rating: 4
 
phuturephillies

According to an AP report a week ago, the Rangers had to borrow $15M from MLB in order to pay their current players. I have serious doubts that MLB would allow them to add even more payroll when they are in debt already and their owner is defaulting on loans.

As for Halladay's destination, the overwhelming favorite still has to be "he stays put"

Of course the Mets. Isn't their 3rd order wins lead insurmountable even without Halladay? No reason for them to empty their farm. Prospects wise, they have the least to offer, it would seem. The Phillies have a far deeper farm system, but they probably have no desire to acquire Wells or Rios. Werth and Victorino are both cheaper and more productive than Wells, and he's not coming in to be a $20M bench player.

Jul 08, 2009 18:08 PM
rating: 5
 
G. Guest

I'd considered the Rangers the 'best' fit since the Jays said that they would trade him. They have SO many options;

However, I hadn't considered the underlying financial problems with the Rangers organization. You make a good point. It's even more relevant if they have to take on Wells contract on top of Halladay.

If they could get Halladay and ONLY Halladay, how much would that change the Rangers revenue? How many more fans come to the ballpark and spend money? I know several Rangers fans who are hungry for a truly competitive team.

I think you're right in most of your points.

Jul 09, 2009 06:53 AM
rating: 0
 
Shaun P.
(676)

I think the Rangers' money problems could be dealt with. They have ~$20M worth of '09 payroll coming off the books for '10 (Blalock and Padilla among others). Getting to the playoffs with Halladay could pay for Wells by itself, if I remember Nate Silver's articles on what the playoffs are worth to a team. If push came to shove, since he's not exactly an institution in Texas, they could always add Millwood to the deal. It would help JP save face too, he could claim he's getting an "ace" back.

Jul 09, 2009 10:41 AM
rating: 0
 
Ira

Very unlikely. If the Rangers are going to add salary to the deal, it would be Padilla, which the Jays could easily flip for other minor prospects. (he's flippable since he's a free agent after this year).

Jul 10, 2009 11:20 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

I don't see any reason for the Mets, a team that is as badly constructed as any since Dan Duquette's '90s Red Sox, to give away any young players and take on hundreds of millions of dollars in salary simply to add one pitcher. You still need more than two excellent starting pitchers to win in both the regular season and the playoffs (though it doesn't hurt) and the Mets simply don't have it.

[A tangent: In my opinion, the Mets should go the other way and conduct a fire sale of their own. They're not going to win anything as currently constituted, and think of how many amazing prospects they could get if David Wright was on the market?]

Jul 09, 2009 10:13 AM
rating: -3
 
mglick0718

Perhaps your consideration of offering up Wright is tongue-in-cheek or strictly wondering, but it makes me shudder because there are enough impatient, loud, flat-Earth types in NY that actually want this to happen. You know, so they can get rid of that bum Wright for some Leaders who Know How to Win. I'm all for doing the un-emotional valuation of any player, and I'd rather see the Mets sell rather than buy this season, but Wright and Reyes are likely to be stars (underpaid at that) for long enough into the future that, even if the Mets face a multi-season drought, they will be crucial players whenever the team contends again. Beltran, on the other hand, given his age and still-excellent performance, is likely to be worth dangling this offseason.

Jul 09, 2009 13:05 PM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

It actually wasn't tongue in cheek, and it has nothing to do with Wright himself, who is an excellent player (anyone who can't see that doesn't know anything about baseball). Instead, I honestly don't believe the Mets are a good enough team to contend this year, Halladay or not. Wright is most certainly not the Mets problem, but the return on Gary Sheffield or any of the other roster filler that makes up the Mets roster (a few others excepted of course) won't allow Minaya to improve the team much. It comes down to this: the Mets need both quality and quantity, and Wright would allow them to get both. Beltran would also, though probably not as much as Wright.

Jul 09, 2009 17:17 PM
rating: 0
 
baserip4

Even if it doesn't quite work out for 2009, the Mets pitching doesn't look any better for 2010. A healthy Reyes and Beltran could really use a Halladay/Santana two-headed monster as one of the best cores in the game tries to make the playoffs for a change.

Jul 09, 2009 10:19 AM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

It's easy to rolleyes when the Mets are posited as a contender, but BP's numbers continue to suggest such a possibility, so I guess it's hard to blame Joe when the model tells him to go for it.

BP's recently updated (7/5) Depth Charts currently predict that the Braves will win the NL East, with the Mets in second, and the Phillies in third. Of course, to get such a counter-intuitive result, the model assumes that the Braves and Mets will both score runs like offensive juggernauts (446 and 444 runs, respectively) between now and the last day of the season, which would be a monster improvement on their current first half numbers (352 and 360 runs scored, respectively). They will also both (continue to) pitch great, and only allow 307(!) and 344 runs, respectively, between now and game 162. The Phillies, meanwhile, are predicted to copy their pitching performance from the first half (395 RA as of today, 396 RA for the rest of the season), while hitting much worse (435 Runs scored as of today, 366 RS for the rest of the year).

Jul 09, 2009 11:19 AM
rating: 1
 
Sharky

Joe, a very interesting article. You're ignoring the elephant in the room: Ricciardi and Co. SIGNED that deal for Wells. So trading Halladay to get rid of Wells is tantamount to admitting the mistake.

That has to be even more unlikely than Omar Minaya doing white flag trades (and admitting mistakes like Oliver Perez).

Jul 08, 2009 18:13 PM
rating: 3
 
baserip4

They also signed Frank Thomas and B.J. Ryan and were happy to admit those mistakes.

Jul 09, 2009 10:21 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

Right. How many multi-million dollar mistakes can one GM make without those above him beginning to question whether or not he is the right person for the job?

Jul 09, 2009 10:31 AM
rating: 1
 
Bill N

So wait, exhibiting a willingness to admit mistakes makes you LESS likely to admit to them going forward?

Jul 09, 2009 11:41 AM
rating: 0
 
Rusty Pecker

Reading how much wells is due to make in the next few years made me throw up a little in my mouth. That is a terrible contract.

Jul 08, 2009 18:27 PM
rating: 6
 
bflaff

Yeah, I knew it was bad, but had no idea it was *that* bad.

Jul 09, 2009 10:28 AM
rating: 0
 
tercet

I admit Wells isn't worth his giant contract, but two seasons ago he was injured and had his first bad season.
Last year he was on pace for his avg season I would say, but was cut short 200~ab's due to various injuries.
Yea this year he has struggled tremendously but I still believe he can regain some of his old form.

Jul 08, 2009 18:38 PM
rating: 0
 
kerrigrr

Great article, Joe. A really interesting take. As a Met fan, I would be a-ok with them taking on the Wells contract if it meant landing Halladay, especially considering who plays the outfield for the team these days and even more so considering the tenuous future for Beltran and his knees in center field. If F-Mart was the only prospect that had to go along with eating all that money, it would be well worth it.

That said, I fully expect the Cards, Rangers or Chisox to be the ones landing Halladay. They all have far better prospects to deal to Toronto and all three have proactive front offices.

Jul 08, 2009 20:21 PM
rating: 1
 
jnossal

The argument fails to consider the downside, namely that Wells bounces back with a few productive seasons, even if they are short of $20+ million value. The case for trading Halladay as a means to dumping Wells' contract is predicated on Wells continuing to suck and that is simply not a given.

Can you imagine if a team picked up not only a pair of Cy Young caliber seasons in Halladay, but also 2-3 years of league-average outfield play in Wells for nothing more than a couple of prospects and payroll relief? The entire Toronto front office would get bounced on their collective ears trying to justify that and rightfully so.

Wells may well be a mistake, no reason to compound that error by also pissing away the best starter in baseball. Better to work around the Wells mistake by acquiring a plethora of good cheap talent for Halladay than to surrender both Wells and Hallady and just start from scratch.

Jul 08, 2009 22:19 PM
rating: 0
 
ElAngelo
(942)

Isn't this roughly what Boston did by trading for Beckett and Mike Lowell (albeit a lesser albatross and a less good pitcher)? Hanley Ramirez has obviously made it somewhat passable for the Marlins, but Fernando Martinez could do the same for the Blue Jays.

Of course, given that Wilpon lost a quarter of a billion dollars with Bernie Madoff, I don't think the Mets are real contenders to add that much payroll.

Jul 09, 2009 06:45 AM
rating: 4
 
HeavyHitter

Very good analogy. However, I don't think the Wilpons are charity cases yet, not with a team in that market with a new ballpark. I think it will come down to the Phillies or the Mets, with the Mets having an "advantage" because Wells could really help them.

Jul 09, 2009 09:59 AM
rating: 0
 
Robert Flaxman

I have a hard time believing that any team has the kind of return that Toronto will want that would also be willing to do the deal. If Toronto wants a SS as is rumored, who could pull it off? Maybe Milwaukee with Hardy or Escobar? (I quit if that happens.) White Sox? Maybe, although I don't see them trading Ramirez or Beckham. The likeliest thing is Halladay doesn't move.

Jul 08, 2009 22:52 PM
rating: 0
 
Worthing

I really think you're wrong on this one Joe regarding Riccardi not wanting to trade the duo to the Red Sox and the Yankees. If I'm in Riccardi's shoes, the BoSox and Yanks are the FIRST teams I trade them to.

Here's why: for the next 15 months, they (BoSox/Yankees) have Halladay. The Jays aren't going to be competative in those 15 months regardless of the package they get. After those 15 months though, any prospects they have and that they land in the deal are possibly going to be coming into their own and the Jays will be on the upswing. This is at the exact time that anchor of a contract to Wells is further weighing down the BoSox and Yankees.

The Blue Jays play screw your neighbor where the kill-shot hits at just the perfect time.

Jul 08, 2009 23:20 PM
rating: 7
 
ElAngelo
(942)

More compelling is the Rays, who wouldn't pay him as a free agent after 2010 anyway and have better prospects to offer back. Though they wouldn't take Wells.

Jul 09, 2009 06:46 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

Neither the Yankees or Red Sox have a place in the starting nine for Wells. Both could put him on the bench as Mr. Sheehan suggests, but would Wells really give up his no-trade clause to sit on the bench? He gets paid whether he plays or sits, and he gets to choose so I'm guessing he'd choose to play. If the Jays are intent on ridding themselves of Wells by using Halladay they're likely going to have to do it somewhere where Wells can start, and that isn't in Boston or the Bronx.

Jul 09, 2009 09:55 AM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

And since when is one (even awesomely bad) contract a 'kill shot' for either the Yankees or Sox?

Jul 09, 2009 10:36 AM
rating: 1
 
danlbfaks

The Yanks and Sox are different animals in this regard.

The Yankees have had some awful contracts to deal with in recent years. While it didn't kill them, the huge contracts inexplicably altered Cashman's construction of the non-Big Contract portions of the roster. Depth has reared its ugly head at various times this decade because of poor choices at backup C, backup 3B, outfield, the bench, and the bullpen. The Yankees have put all their eggs in a handful of very highly paid baskets and patched the rest of the roster together.

The Sox haven't had this kind of contract beyond the debatable pain of Manny's albatross contract. It wasn't a killer because the rest of the roster is reasonably balanced, with depth and youth everywhere. The biggest salary on the roster this year is $14m to JD Drew. Only three others make $10m or more. Compare that to the Yankees, with SIX guys paid more than Drew and nine above $10m. To quantify the difference in depth, the Sox pay their 20th highest paid player $1m, more than the Yankees pay theirs ($0.5m). All of which would lead me to be very surprised if the Sox are players in this one. The extension contract for Halladay and the Wells albatross would both be significant deviations from the Epstein era.

Jul 09, 2009 11:43 AM
rating: 1
 
elm
(41)

The Yanks have a lot of money coming off the books at the end of '09 (Damon, Matsui, Pettite, Nady, Molina) and, assuming they don't resign any of the OFs, will have an OF next year of Swisher, Gardner, Cabrera, and, maybe Austen Jackson, with no one locked in at the DH. While there's no room for Wells this year, one could argue that next year, they'll have room and money for him.

I don't know if I like the deal from the Yankees perspective, as the opportunity cost of having Wells in your outfield for the next five years is high and they're not desperate for a starter, but depending on what they have to give up in prospects, I must admit, the thought of adding Halladay for the next 1 1/2 years is tempting...

Jul 09, 2009 12:22 PM
rating: 0
 
msoltvedt

I think this is a good article right up to the point that you suggest this is an actual possibility. Admitting that you signed a player to a contract that is so bad that you would trade one of the best players in baseball to someone simply for taking it on is career suicide. Doing so a week after admitting you made another monster mistake (B.J. Ryan) is even worse. Not only that, but you've already sold Wells as a foundation piece, and frankly the last thing you can do before re-building the foundation of your franchise is reminding the fanbase that the last time you did this it didn't go very well (Wells, Hinske, etc.).

Jul 09, 2009 07:01 AM
rating: 6
 
Schere

good point. J.P. would probably have to include himself in the deal.

Jul 09, 2009 07:33 AM
rating: 6
 
ndubby

If JP were included in the deal, wouldn't the Jays have to give up prospects in addition?

Jul 09, 2009 12:55 PM
rating: 1
 
Evan
(47)

If he's made the mistake, and any competent evaluator can tell that he has, isn't the wisest option admitting it and moving ahead?

The mistakes are made. Those are now sunk costs, and it would be foolish of the Jays to reward Ricciardi for pretending they didn't happen.

Joe's exactly right. Halladay is the only opportunity the Jays will ever have to get out from under the Wells contract, and they should work their hardest to do just that.

Jul 09, 2009 10:22 AM
rating: 0
 
baserip4

So its better to refuse to admit your mistakes and not try to clean up the mess?

Jul 09, 2009 10:23 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

At a certain point in order to keep your job, 'yes.'

Jul 09, 2009 10:33 AM
rating: 0
 
JoeSky60

Great article! I love this speculative stuff.

I like Doc going to the White Sox, or Rangers(in order of my personal preference). That said, neither Kenny Williams, nor Jon Daniels seem likely to take on Wells contract, but stranger things have happened. The Rangers have better prospects to deal, and it would certainly give them the wherewithal to stay in the race, if not make them the favorite. Never underestimate Kenny Williams though, especially since the Sox are in much better shape, financially.

In the end, this may be much ado over nothing. Toronto, may not part with Halladay, unless they have their socks knocked off(which would include dumping Wells contract, of course).

Jul 09, 2009 07:23 AM
rating: 0
 
Rowen Bell

I seem to recall reading in a Canadian paper this week that Halladay has a phobia about the Rangers' park and has no interest in being traded there. So, while the Rangers may be a good fit in theory, in practice they may not be in the running.

Jul 09, 2009 07:32 AM
rating: 1
 
bhalpern

But is that any more true of Halladay than every pitcher the Rangers already have?

Jul 09, 2009 08:37 AM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

Yes - Halladay has a no-trade clause - if he doesn't want to pitch in Arlington, he has the full right to block any potential trade there.

Jul 09, 2009 09:04 AM
rating: 0
 
Aaron/YYZ

He's had a number of bad experiences with line drives up the middle in Arlington (e.g. the broken leg line drive off the bat of Kevin Mench a few years ago that likely cost Halladay a Cy Young).

Jul 09, 2009 10:29 AM
rating: 1
 
R.A.Wagman

This is all a tempest in a tea-kettle. Nothing will happen. Ricciardi rarely backs up his talk with corresponding actions.
As for Wells, trading him now would be at his value low point. He started the year off horribly, and has been known to be somewhat streaky in the past. And by somewhat, I mean extremely. See his MLVr's over the last three years: .144, -.131, .117. Or, if you prefer VORP: 59.5, 4.4, 30.2 (missed about a third of the season). He has gotten off to a brutal start to the season, currently sitting at a 741 OPS, but he has the ability (and track record) to bump that up close to 100 points by year's end. If he does that and keeps that as a steady level next season, he will have much more value in any potential trade.

Jul 09, 2009 07:50 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

Wells could have an .841 OPS by the end of the year and it won't matter one bit because nobody wants to pay a guy with either a .741 OPS or an .841 OPS $107 million over the next five years. That contract is the very definition of un-tradable.

Also, a minor pet peeve, but I don't like it when people say "won't happen." I always think to myself, "how the heck do you know?" It might be unlikely to happen, or maybe it doesn't make sense to you, but unless you can predict the future, you're not adding anything to the discussion by simply saying, "No."

Jul 09, 2009 10:03 AM
rating: 0
 
sockeye

Agreed. All these declarative statements like "never gonna happen", and you think "is that a) Billy Beane himself logging in under some pseudonym, b) Nostradamus, inexplicably reincarnated and determined to use his talents on baseball trades, or c) some Average Joe with no more access to information than I have? Hmmm.......

Jul 10, 2009 00:38 AM
rating: 0
 
Clonod

This is probably the 12th article I've read on the Halladay sweepstakes, and by far the most interesting.

This is why I give you people money.

Jul 09, 2009 09:09 AM
rating: 10
 
Matt Kory

I agree with Clonod. And because I often chime in negatively I do want to second the above comment: A good and interesting article, Mr. Sheehan.

Jul 09, 2009 10:05 AM
rating: 0
 
Dr. Dave

While I agree with everyone who is saying that Ricciardi could not do this deal and still have a career, it makes for fun speculation.

Here's the version I favor: Halladay to the Mets, in exchange for Wells to the Mets. Period.

Why should the Mets have to give up anything beyond the $20M per year? It's essentially a cash deal, where the Mets pay the Jays $100M for Halladay and Wells. When you phrase it that way, it doesn't sound as stupid for the Jays, and it's obvious that giving up any prospects on top of the cash would be way too much to ask.

It would be fascinating to watch the Commissioner's Office responsd to such a proposed deal. On the one hand, they'd hate it for being a pure cash transaction, and terrible PR. On the other, as a cautionary tale to teach owners the evils of big contracts, it's matchless.

Jul 09, 2009 09:46 AM
rating: 5
 
Matt Kory

Ricciardi would have to get something in return for Halladay and Wells. I would imagine that it would be pretty close to impossible for him to make the argument both to his owner, to the press, and to the fans that he is the person who should re-build the Blue Jays after giving away two of the team's cornerstone players for nothing at all. If I was the owner and Ricciardi came to me with that deal I'd veto it and then fire him.

Jul 09, 2009 10:09 AM
rating: -1
 
Calkid
(502)

I've often wondered the same thing with regards to the Giants. "I'll give you Cain for free, but you have to take Zito or Rowand." If someone were taking on a true albatross contract (e.g., Wells, Zito), I would be somewhat surprised if the acquiring other team had to throw in a boat-load of prospects. If the Beckett-Lowell trade were to occur today, I wonder if the Red Sox would need to offer a top prospect?

Jul 09, 2009 10:16 AM
rating: 0
 
baserip4

I would think that the Giants are in a bit different financial situation than the Jays, and they have a much lower hurdle than the AL East presents.

Jul 09, 2009 10:26 AM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

I know it's been said before elsewhere, but everybody else seems to think the Angels are the favorite to get Halladay. They would have no need for Wells, but they do have two ML-ready prospects that would fill a need.

Brandon Wood may be the best hitter left in the minors, and is stuck behind Figgins and (weirdly) Aybar. Also, Sean Rodriguez is stuck behind Kendrick. I'm sure they have a young pitcher or two to throw in, and they certainly have the money (and the need!) to use Halladay for 2009 and 2010.

With Scutaro hitting free agency and Rolen planning his next major injury, two young power-hitting infielders is exactly what Toronto needs in the middle of the lineup. If Marcum (and McGowan?) can get healthy, the Jays already have a great rotation even without Halladay.

Rodriguez has played 471 career games at SS if Wood needs to shift over to 3rd (he's played over 100 games there). A 2010 lineup including Rios, Hill, Lind, Wood, Snider, Rodriguez? Nice. Add JP Arencibia and Overbay would hit 9th! This lineup could hit any pitcher in the AL. Rotation of Romero, Marcum, McGowan, Richmond, and Cecil? Not too shabby.

Jul 09, 2009 10:17 AM
rating: 1
 
CRP13

Following up, Wood and Rodriguez is a steep price, but Halladay could make the Angels serious contenders - certainly in the AL East, and they'd have pitching to run deep in the playoffs.

Jul 09, 2009 10:19 AM
rating: 0
 
Evan
(47)

The Phillies look like an even more likely destination once you consider their established inability to evaluate aging outfielders.

That Ibanez contract remains a bad decision, but it looks like a good decision (because Ibanez is performing well), so they'll probably be more willing to ignore the wiser voices once again with Wells.

Jul 09, 2009 10:20 AM
rating: 1
 
emanski

Re the Phillies and aging OF, they evaluated Pat Burrell pretty well, if a half season crossing leagues is any judge, which it isn't. Ibanez has been a stroke of good scouting and good luck, but if he can hit like a $20M OF for one whole season, he doesn't really have to pan out that well in the others.

Wells could be expected to play better in the NL (like Ibanez has) but ~$123M for 1.5 seasons of Roy Halladay, pro-rated, is obviously wholly insane. It's a fun discussion, but who could afford to pay $82M a year for one (nonbulletproof) pitcher?

The Phillies would surely be right to part with any of their top prospects to land (just) Halladay, maybe all of them. This is not a team built to last, as even their one great player plays the wrong position for extended success. And in that sense, Ibanez fits right in too.

Jul 09, 2009 13:13 PM
rating: 1
 
Randolph314

If you're going to crunch those numbers, don't you need to take into account Halladay's salary over the remaining life of his contract and Halladay and Wells's value during the postseason (or is the latter already incorporated in MORP)?

Jul 09, 2009 10:22 AM
rating: 0
 
mattgioia

The Jays could rationalize spending 10 mill/yr on the prospects that they receive. Make the Jays take on half that salary for the prospects you're sending them. Just doing some guestimating in my head, I think you could make the numbers work for that over a 2-3 year span... If you go out to 6 the prospects value will likely kill it though.

Jul 09, 2009 10:25 AM
rating: 0
 
baserip4

Heck, making the Jays pay just $20 million would probably make this type of deal doable for both sides.

Jul 09, 2009 10:27 AM
rating: 0
 
OonBoon

How about dealing Wells and Halladay to the Amazin's for Perez and Martinez? The Jays still see a significant reduction in expenditures and get two players with upside, and the Mets get to replace a train wreck with the 2nd best pitcher in baseball and a serviceable outfielder. Much has been made in the past of Wells' home/road splits, but he has actually been better on the road the last two years. This year he's batting .172 at home and .330 on the road. The guy, I think, needs a change of scenery and can still be a solid $10MM a year outfielder. Is an offense depressing field the best place for Wells to land? Probably not. He strikes me as exactly the type of player who should be playing in Denver. Wells for Helton anyone?

Jul 09, 2009 11:45 AM
rating: 0
 
Aaron/YYZ

Perez who? Ollie? I'm betting he wouldn't do well in the AL East.

Jul 09, 2009 13:45 PM
rating: 0
 
OonBoon
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

-Yes, Ollie. He hasn't done well anywhere this year, but his contract is shorter and for less $. Throwing him in would deduct (prorated) about $29MM from the expected $40MM loss. Can the Mets afford to eat $12MM? Me thinks yes. Of course, this assumes that Ollie continues his precipitous decline and becomes entirely worthless/detrimental to his team's performance.

-Or swap him for Juan Pierre. Manny won't be around forever.

-Or swap him to Citi Group for naming rights to Rogers Centre. Canada Sucks Field, anyone?

Jul 09, 2009 14:31 PM
rating: -4
 
Aaron/YYZ

And the Jays get what out of this? Even if there's an exchange of bad contracts involved, I would have to think that for one of the top 5 pitchers in the game you're going to get more than just Fernando Martinez..

Jul 09, 2009 17:27 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Without debating the specific point, I really have to re-emphasize just how ridiculous the Wells deal is. It's not just a bad contract. It's one of the worst in baseball history, making an essentially average player for the bulk of his career one of the five highest-paid players in baseball in his decline phase.

The gap between payout and expected value, per MORP, is $93 million for 2010-2014 (tack on a few million for 2009 if you want). I'm pretty sure either that or the Zito deal circa 2008 is the highest figure in history for that calculation. $93 million isn't the Ollie Perez deal, or Juan Pierre's, or Gary Matthews'. It's all three in one. It breaks the known scale for "bad contracts."

That's why the proposal is remotely viable for the Blue Jays. I'm not saying this is going to happen; I'm saying that it could, and it's a deal that would make all the sense in the world for them.

Jul 09, 2009 18:43 PM
 
ndubby

Re. Canada Sucks Field: no need for that now. If memory serves me right, Canada didn't elect an idiot as its president (twice!) and hasn't invaded a country for unjustifiable reason in the last 7 years.

Jul 10, 2009 08:36 AM
rating: -1
 
wonkothesane1

Mets. They could use Wells as a fill-in for a bit and then trade him while eating his salary. Then they get Halladay, don't have to deal with the roster crunch and maybe get a C/C+ prospect or two back.

Jul 09, 2009 12:17 PM
rating: -2
 
kerrigrr

The Mets have had no luck trading anyone and eating salary under Omar's tenure (Luis Castillo, anyone?) so I highly doubt the Wilpons and Omar would like to try and swallow 20 mil while selling low on Vernon Wells.

Jul 09, 2009 23:56 PM
rating: 0
 
ElAngelo
(942)

Heck, how about trading him to the Rockies, and having the Blue Jays take back Todd Helton's horrible contract to offset the blow?

Or just swap Wells straight up for Barry Zito in a pass-the-trash deal, and then try to get some real prospects back for Halladay?

The possibilities are endless.

Jul 09, 2009 14:24 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Sorry, just want to tack on one thought here. I'm pretty much convinced that "Halladay and Wells for C prospect" is the optimal trade for the Blue Jays. I can also see where they can't do that.

Run at it a different way. What if we called it "Halladay and Wells for C prospect and Albert Pujols"? "Halladay and Wells for C prospect and Joe Mauer"? "Halladay and Wells for C prospect and Grady Sizemore"?

Hell, "40 starts of Halladay and Wells for C prospect and Halladay"?

If the Jays get out from under the Wells deal, they become players for any top-tier FA. Not guaranteeing they can get them, but looking at the trade that way has to make a difference, right?

Jul 09, 2009 19:16 PM
 
amazin_mess

It's a moot point. They won't be able to trade Wells.

Jul 10, 2009 06:02 AM
rating: 0
 
Evan
(47)

Then they'll have to go Edmund Fitzgerald on him.

Jul 10, 2009 08:50 AM
rating: 0
 
Michael Bodell
(89)

Yeah, if we were talking about trades that won't happen, even if they would be good for the Jays (like Halladay and Wells for nothing). I think the best trade for the Jays would be Halladay to the Indians for a change of divisions. I mean really even though the Wells deal is a horrible deal, the Jays biggest problem isn't the Wells deal, it is the AL East. If the Jays had been in the AL Central the past 5 years, we'd be talking about them as a constant playoff team.

And Cleveland and Toronto are about equally close to the East as to the Central so they could switch divisions. Toronto's average distance would go down slightly from 705 miles per team to 681 miles per team if they switched to a Cleveland-less Central division. Cleveland is actually closer to the other East teams than Toronto, but would see a slight increase from 515 miles per team to 641 miles per team.

So it isn't crazy from a geographic distribution. But obviously it wouldn't happen since MLB decides divisions. But I also don't think Wells and Halladay for nothing can happen either.

Jul 12, 2009 14:12 PM
rating: 0
 
canada

If only that could happen...

Jul 14, 2009 11:30 AM
rating: 0
 
hessshaun

Yeah I think this deal would be similar to what the Phils did a few years ago with Thome, although on a much grander scale. The Jays pay a portion of Wells' contract each year, say $5 mil a year, and then in turn ask for more on the prospect end. I don't think that anyone disagrees that Halladay is about as valuable as they come, regardless of how long his contract is.

And all the people who claim that this article is baseless because of Wells ability to improve, that was addressed. You have to remember that they are in the AL East and have a significantly smaller margin for error than any other division in baseball. If you could build a team with a Wells' type of contract, surely he isn't a top 5 pick if you are just pulling positional players from the AL East.

They also have to deal with their economy vs. the dollar. As if they need another reason to make life in the AL East more difficult.

Jul 10, 2009 06:27 AM
rating: 0
 
judyblum

Halladay isn't young enough or cheap enough or under contract for long enough to get me to take Vernon Wells with that contract. The Jays would do it if they're even the least bit sane at all, it's the other team that would have to be insane.

Jul 10, 2009 09:07 AM
rating: 0
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Midseason Review (07/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospectus Today: A Mo... (07/07)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Brea... (07/10)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (07/09)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Friday, April 24
Premium Article Daisy Cutter: Carlos Rodon and the White Sox...
Eyewitness Accounts: April 24, 2015
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: Of Signals and Sausages
Raising Aces: Debut Ante: Raisel Iglesias
Painting the Black: No D In Desmond?
BP Bronx

MORE FROM JULY 9, 2009
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Call the Doctor
Premium Article Midseason Review
Premium Article Under The Knife: Rewind and Review
Premium Article Future Shock: Big Steps Backwards
Premium Article Transaction Action: Easty Beasties

MORE BY JOE SHEEHAN
2009-07-15 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: The Next Best Ballplayer
2009-07-13 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: All-Star Grab Bag
2009-07-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: Breaking From Fashion
2009-07-09 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: Packaging the Canadian Ace
2009-07-07 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: A Modest All-Star Proposal
2009-07-06 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: The All-Star Selections
2009-07-02 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: Whining
More...

MORE PROSPECTUS TODAY
2009-07-15 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: The Next Best Ballplayer
2009-07-13 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: All-Star Grab Bag
2009-07-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: Breaking From Fashion
2009-07-09 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: Packaging the Canadian Ace
2009-07-07 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: A Modest All-Star Proposal
2009-07-06 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: The All-Star Selections
2009-07-02 - Premium Article Prospectus Today: Whining
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2009-07-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: Back in the Saddle Agai...
2009-07-09 - Premium Article Transaction Action: Easty Beasties