PHOENIX - Talks between the Phillies and Blue Jays about a potential Roy Halladay deal are ongoing, said a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations. But the Phils remained open yesterday to exploring the trade market for starters other than the Toronto ace.
And the Cleveland Indians, deciding whether to trade 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, have dispatched scouts to double-A Reading to watch the Phillies' Eastern League affiliate this week, according to baseball sources. Sources also said that the Indians will "double up" their scouts to watch 21-year-old righthander Vance Worley pitch on Thursday if a deal is still possible at that point. Worley, a righthander, is 6-8 with a 5.68 ERA this year.
Prized Phillies prospect Kyle Drabek, who pitched seven innings last night for Reading beating Portland, 4-3, was not believed to be a part of a potential deal for Lee. A Blue Jays scout watched Drabek.
Drabek has been one point of disagreement between the Phillies and the Jays. Toronto initially asked for Drabek, lefty J.A. Happ and outfielder Dominic Brown for Halladay, and the Phils are reluctant to part with Drabek. Despite differences between the team on a trade package, a Phils spokesperson yesterday denied reports that there is ill will between the front offices, and a Jays source confirmed that.
In Seattle, Halladay said that he has heard nothing new about a trade.
If the price for Halladay remains too steep for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s liking, he can explore potential deals with Cleveland for Lee or with Seattle for lefthander Jarrod Washburn.
Washburn, Lee and Seattle lefty Erik Bedard were among the pitchers the Phils were considering as an alternative to Halladay. The injury-prone Bedard was placed on the disabled list Sunday, eliminating him as a possibility, though a member of the Phillies organization recently told The Inquirer that he doubted Bedard's desire to pitch deep into games and be the "horse" that the team needed.
The loss of Bedard would seem to make the Mariners more likely to trade off players at the deadline. Amaro declined to say yesterday whether the Phils would send a scout to watch Washburn pitch in Seattle tonight.
Washburn, 34, is 8-6 with a 2.71 ERA this season, and has been linked in various reports to other teams this week.
Top Phillies scout Charley Kerfeld watched Lee allow six hits and two earned runs in seven innings Sunday in Seattle. The lefty struck out four and walked none and is 7-9 with 3.14 ERA this season.
As they usually do during the week preceding the trade deadline, the Phillies brought most of their front office to Arizona Sunday night, including Amaro, assistant general managers Scott Proefrock, Benny Looper and Chuck Lamar and pro scouting director Mike Ondo.
The Phillies have a long history of opting to acquire mid-level players who ultimately prove valuable. That list includes Jayson Werth, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton. A trade for Washburn or Lee would be consistent with that approach, one that characterized former general manager Pat Gillick. But this is Amaro's first season as general manager, and his style remains largely unknown, though much will be learned by the end of this week.