Here's where we are as of Tuesday evening: A press conference officially introducing Roy Halladay as the newest Phillie will likely occur tomorrow at Citizens Bank Park, according to a source with direct knowledge of the team's plans.
The event could still, however, be delayed another day if medical reviews are not completed for all players involved in the deal. For coverage of the day's unfolding events, see below.
The Halladay/Lee deal is "very unlikely" to be made official today, according to a person familiar with the talks. An official announcement could very well come tomorrow. The process could still accelerate and lead to an announcement later today.
There has been some unrest in my inbox this morning about reports of this trade. The widely reported deal is a good one for the Phillies, but your concerns are understandable. Reports varied yesterday evening, but the framework has now come into focus as pretty much this:
Phillies get: Roy Halladay from Toronto, 20-year-old righthander Phillippe Aumont form Seattle, 21-year-old righty J.C. Ramirez from Seattle, and 21-year-old outfielder Tyson Gillies from Seattle.
Toronto gets: Righty Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor, catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
Seattle gets: Cliff Lee
This could still change up until the moment it is announced.
Let's run through some of the reservations and questions:
Why did it have to be Cliff Lee?
The Phillies at first tried to move Joe Blanton's approximately $7 million salary, but that apparently did not go anywhere. It would have been very difficult to find a team to take on that money and trade decent prospects for Blanton.
That left the Phils with the option of trading Lee. The lefty will make $9 million in 2010, and the team expected he would become a free agent after the season. Lee's agent told us yesterday that wasn't necessarily true. But even if he did sign an extension, it would have been for significantly more money than the Phils are reportedly giving Halladay.
According to ESPN, Halladay will make $15.75 million next season, and $60 million for the next three years. That's an unbelieveable bargain, and the best part about it is the length; you're not locking this guy up until he's over-the-hill (he's 32 now). Lee's buddy CC Sabathia got seven years, $161 million last winter, by comparison. More money, more years. And Lee might look for something like that in 11 months.
The idea that Lee and Halladay could be part of the same rotation next year was never realistic. The Phils maintained they did not have the room in their payroll. That room might have been created by trading Blanton, but they couldn't.
And while Lee was spectacular in the World Series, Roy Halladay is a better pitcher. Look it up.
But we thought Drabek was untouchable…
Baseball America projects Drabek as a potential no. 2 or no. 3 starter. He has already undergone Tommy John surgery, and the team shut him down this summer for precautionary reasons. Keep in mind that most highly-touted pitchers do not become stars. It is difficult to imagine that he will be comparable in any way to Halladay over the next four years.
Also, this is much easier for the Phils to absorb, because they are receiving a highly-touted pitcher. Aumont is a former no. 1 draft pick, and he struck out Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson while pitching for Team Canada in last March's World Baseball Classic.
Ramirez is raw. He was 8-10 with a 5.12 ERA last season, but his perceived potential led Baseball America to rank him as the no.5 prospect in the Mariners' system.
Will either Aumont or Ramirez become major league stars? Not likely. It is never likely that pitching prospects will become solid major leaguers. But they do help ease the hit to the farm system caused by this trade.
Someone told us that that Michael Taylor was going to be an All-Star…
Michael Taylor seems like a very smart, very grounded person, and we wish him the best. And he may well enjoy a productive career. But baseball people like Domonic Brown much more. The Phils kept Brown out of this deal, a negotiating victory.
Gillies, by the way, played in the Futures Game last year, a showcase for top minor league talent.
It's not just that they gave up Lee, Drabek, Taylor, d'Arnaud. They gave up Marson, Carrasco, et. al….
Don't let Ruben Amaro fool you when he says he gave up a lot for Lee last summer. I will be surprised if any one of Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Jason Knapp ever makes an All-Star team. The Indians needed to shed payroll last summer, and took a package of lesser prospects for their ace.
Look, two things that fans love are postseason performers and top prospects. That's what people get excited about, and connect to emotionally. Very reasonable. But I believe that this move makes it more likely that the Phils will enjoy several more World Series appearances. It makes them a bit better next year, and much, much better in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Here's an add-on after getting some more emails: You're right, this trade as currently constructed is not technically a three-team trade. The Phils are reportedly acquiring Halladay from Toronto for prospects, while also trading Lee to Seattle for prospects. But the issue of payroll is still central to this, and prospects are also important. After giving up some of their top youngsters to get Halladay, the Phils wanted to replenish their system. So they got highly-regarded guys from Seattle.
Also, though multiple reports have Halladay and the Phils agreeing on the extension, an official announcement still does not appear likely until tomorrow. Lots of moving parts here, and medical records to be exchanged.
The Phils have made the signing of Ross Gload official. Gload passed his physical today. The 33-year-old lefthanded bench player essentially replaces Matt Stairs. He led the major leagues with 21 pinch-hits last year, and tied for the major league lead with 15 pinch hit RBIs.
Also, the Phillies ended up sending two scouts to see Cuban prospect Aroldis Chapman throw in Houston today, according to a team source. But they are not believed to have serious interest in pursuing the pitcher.