Trade talks involving Toronto ace Roy Halladay remain intense, with the Phillies focused on acquiring the Toronto superstar. But the team remains open to other potential moves, including a deal for Cleveland starter Cliff Lee.
Though the Phils typically send just one executive on road trips, nearly every member of the front office boarded the team charter to Arizona last night following the team's 9-2 win over St. Louis. The week before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is baseball's intense season, and extra minds and bodies were needed to discuss the various proposals and counterproposals involved in the team's attempt to bolster its roster.
Toronto began negotiations in earnest on Friday, setting the asking price for Halladay at starter J.A. Happ, top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, and highly regarded minor-league outfielder Dominic Brown.
Various reports attempted to update the negotiations over the weekend, though general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. declined a request to comment on individual reports.
This much is known: The Blue Jays have made clear that teams will have to surrender top talent to acquire Halladay, whom many consider the best pitcher in baseball. The Phillies are highly reluctant to surrender both Drabek and Happ. Outfield prospect Michael Taylor has also been mentioned as a possible piece in a deal, but both teams believe that fellow outfielder Brown has more potential than Taylor. A Blue Jays scout watched Brown yesterday in Clearwater, Fla.
Also, while the Phillies' strong preference was to acquire Halladay, they were expected to send superscout Charley Kerfeld to watch 2008 American League Cy Young winner Lee pitch for Cleveland in Seattle yesterday. Lee worked seven innings, allowing six hits, two runs and no walks. He struck out four and lowered his ERA to 3.14 to get the win as Cleveland cruised, 12-3. Lee improved to 7-9.
Halladay is due $15.75 million next season, but Lee is owed just the remainder of his $5.75 million salary this year and a $9 million club option for next year - a very affordable contract for a top pitcher.
Baseball sources believe that a package of second-tier prospects like pitcher Carlos Carrasco and infielder Jason Donald might be sufficient to pry Lee from Cleveland.