SEATTLE - If the Toronto Blue Jays' charter flight was late getting airborne last night, it was Roy Halladay's fault.
The pitcher, drained by trade rumors and pitching seven innings of losing baseball in oppressive humidity, appeared anguished as he dressed slowly at his locker after absorbing a 3-2 loss to Seattle yesterday afternoon.
For Halladay, the loss may have been a double whammy. The 32-year-old righthander was placed on the trading block three weeks ago. Since then, he had spoken of his desire to pitch for a contending team, and the Phillies were in hot pursuit.
Several hours before yesterday's game, however, Halladay learned that the Phillies had satisfied their desire for a top pitcher by trading for Cleveland's Cliff Lee. People close to Halladay say he would have welcomed the chance to pitch for the Phillies. But the Lee trade extinguished talks between the two teams and meant that Halladay would continue to be haunted by uncertainty - at least until tomorrow's 4 p.m. trade deadline passes.
With most of his teammates already gone from the clubhouse, Halladay said all the right things, though the look on his face spoke of disappointment.
"They were just rumors I heard," Halladay said of the potential trade to the Phillies. "I don't think it was something I had set one way or another where I'd be upset. When it was all said and done, it had to be an ideal situation for Toronto. That wasn't the case. I'm a Blue Jay and I'm happy to be one."
Asked whether pitching for the Phillies would have been appealing, Halladay said, "I can't answer that because it was never a real option, so I didn't have to consider it. I plan on being a Blue Jay until they tell me otherwise."
Halladay said the uncertainty of the trade deadline had become so overwhelming that he planned to lock himself in his hotel room and hide today. In a strange twist, the Blue Jays and Phillies checked into the same San Francisco hotel last night. The Phils play at San Francisco tonight; the Jays will begin a series in Oakland tomorrow.
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he still was talking with teams about dealing Halladay. Boston and the Los Angeles Angels could be the top contenders to get Halladay if Ricciardi gets an offer to his liking.
From the beginning, Ricciardi has sought a huge package for Halladay. The Phillies had what he was looking for in pitchers Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ, and outfielder Dominic Brown, but they would not part with that package. Last night, sources close to the negotiations said the Jays wanted minor-league outfielder Anthony Gose as well.
"They never came off the names," a person with knowledge of the talks said of the Jays. "It was about the names."
The Phillies were able to get Lee, who beat out Halladay for the American League Cy Young Award last season, for a package that featured pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson, and shortstop Jason Donald. All are highly regarded, but not at the level of Drabek and Brown. The Phils also got to keep Happ, who is essential to this year's team.
"This deal allowed us to add without subtracting," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. The Toronto deal "would have required so much subtracting that the deal didn't make sense for today or tomorrow."
Like Halladay, Lee is signed for next year, and the Phillies valued that. Halladay is due to make $15.75 million next season, while Lee will make $9 million. Sources say finances did not preclude the Phillies from adding Halladay, but they might have had to deal Blanton over the winter if they had gotten the Toronto ace.
Now, they can likely keep Blanton, who will get a raise from $5.475 million.