Earlier this season, the Chicago White Sox made a strong play to trade for San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy. Â A deal was reached in principle before being nixed by the Padres ace. Â
Naturally, it was assumed that when the Toronto Blue Jays made Roy Halladay available that the White Sox would get involved.
And as team after team has fallen off of the Blue Jays radar screen, gauging the asking price to be too high even for one of the best pitchers of this decade, the White Sox still apparently linger as a potential trade partner for Toronto…at least in one writer’s mind.
In a recent column, Rick Morrisey of the Tribune wrote that the White Sox should do whatever is necessary to pry Halladay away from the Blue Jays, floating a package of John Danks and Alexei Ramirez as a possibility.
So what’s it going to take to get Halladay, the Blue Jays’ star pitcher?
Let’s put on our GM cap and start with shortstopÂ Alexei RamirezÂ and pitcherÂ John Danks. I know: a steep price. But worth it. Halladay is the overpowering pitcher the Sox haven’t had since Jack McDowell. Last season, he struck out 206 batters and walked 39. So far this year, it’s 106-17.
Admittedly, I’m torn on whether I would pull the trigger on such a deal. Â I was all for the Peavy trade because it was based on prospects, guys who had not yet proven their Major League readiness. Â John Danks and Alexei Ramirez have already proven to be above average players at their respective positions, and have also proven to be clutch performers in a pennant race (as evidenced by Alexei’s game-winning grand slam down the stretch last year and John Danks’ incredible start in the one-game playoff to propel the White Sox into the postseason).
Of course, Roy Halladay has been one of the best and most consistent starting pitchers in baseball since 2001.
What do you think? Â Would you do this deal? My gut reaction is to say no, but part of that may be an attachment to Alexei and Danks, both of whom I love and see as young building blocks for the future of the White Sox. The argument for a Halladay deal is that it gives the White Sox a better chance to win this season. The way I look at that is which combo would you rather have: Halladay pitching with Beckham at short and Fields at third, or Danks pitching with Alexei at short and Beckham at third?
Josh Fields hasn’t proven he can be consistent with the bat or the glove, so our infield would certainly weaken in the field (though perhaps not by much…we can’t get much worse in the field) and at the plate, barring a great Fields turnaround. But does Halladay’s consistent dominance improve the White Sox that much more every fifth day over Danks? Â I will say this about Danks: he is a significantly less effective pitcher in July and August during his short career than he’s been in the other months. Â However, he’s been solid in September.
The other issue that would have to be taken into account is contracts. Â As Morrisey points out:
The financial cost of acquiring Halladay is not prohibitive: about $7 million for the rest of this year and $15.75 million in 2010.
John Danks is approaching his arbitration eligible years (beginning next season) and the White Sox will have to decide whether or not to sign him to a long-term deal. Â Certainly any deal with Danks would have to rival what rotation mate Gavin Floyd received this offseason. Â Floyd’s deal bought out his arbitration-eligible seasons for four years, $15.5 million. Â I would have to assume that as a 25 year old lefty, Danks would be able to command a higher price than Floyd. Â
Still, their combined contract would be far less than what the White Sox would have to pony up to lock Halladay up to a long-term deal after his current deal expires in 2010. Â Would you rather have Danks and Floyd locked up for the next half decade or Roy Halladay and Floyd for a year and a half, and then only Floyd?
Alexei Ramirez will also have a contract coming up soon, and I’m sure plenty of teams would love a speedy, power-hitting middle infielder in the prime of his career. But I would assume Alexei’s first choice would be to stay on the South Side, in the very Latino-friendly clubhouse managed by Ozzie Guillen. Â And if the White Sox could get Floyd, Danks, and Ramirez locked up, then do what the Rays did with Evan Longoria and what the Brewers did with Ryan Braun and sign Gordon Beckham long-term before he becomes arbitration-eligible, as well as lock up Carlos Quentin, then there will be a solid nucleus of young talent to carry the team through the transition years when Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, and others eventually have to exit stage left.
The more I write about this potential deal (which really is just Morrisey’s conjecture as far as I can tell) the less I like it. Â Sure, I’d love to have Halladay for this year and next, but not if the price is Danks and Ramirez. Â If it’s one of those guys and an unproven minor leaguer, fine. Obviously you have to give up a lot to get a guy like Halladay. Â But Danks and Ramirez are building blocks for the future of this team, whereas Halladay would likely be a rental for one season plus a couple of months.
I’ll trust Ken Williams to make the ultimate decision if such a deal ever gets on the table, and there would definitely be an exciting buzz if Halladay came to the South Side; but I’m not holding my breath. Â Check out the most recent column at MLB Trade Rumors detailing the Roy Halladay trade rumors and you will see nary a mention of the White Sox. Â I know that Ken likes to work in the shadows, but I’ll reserve all future analysis and comment of Roy Halladay until something concrete is actually out there.
Until then, I’m quite happy with the team that we have, and still confident that our 2005 vets have one more strong October run in them…with our without Roy Halladay.
* – Roy Halladay photo credit: Getty Images via SportsNet.ca