Halladay and the Phillies have agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $60 million or more, according to a source, providing the catalyst for a series of trades also involving the Mariners and A's. In return for their ace, the Blue Jays would receive a package of prospects that includes pitcher Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis D'Arnaud from Philadelphia.
Toronto, which would also send $6 million to the Phillies, would then deal Taylor to Oakland for infield prospect Brett Wallace, according to another source. The Blue Jays have had their eye on Wallace for some time -- he was originally selected by the Jays in the 42nd round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft -- and the club would likely shift him from third to first base.
With Halladay in the fold at least through 2013 -- a vesting option could reportedly make the deal even lengthier -- the Phillies would then deal ace left-hander Cliff Lee to Seattle. Philadelphia would be in line to receive pitching prospects Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez, as well as outfield prospect Tyson Gillies from the Mariners in return.
For the Blue Jays, the deal adds potential stars in Drabek and Wallace and brings more depth to the catching position -- an organizational need. Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay is only under contract through 2010, so Wallace could see the big leagues soon, especially if the Jays attempt to trade Overbay this winter or before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Wallace was selected in the first round of the 2008 Draft by the Cardinals -- four slots before the Blue Jays grabbed first baseman David Cooper with the 17th overall pick -- and was traded to the A's in the July swap that sent outfielder Matt Holliday to St. Louis. Cooper's stock dropped in 2008, especially after a subpar showing in the Arizona Fall League.
Last year, the 23-year-old Wallace hit .293 with 20 home runs, 26 doubles and 63 RBIs over 138 games between stints with Double-A Springfield, Triple-A Memphis and Triple-A Sacramento. Over that span, the left-handed-hitting corner infielder fashioned a .367 on-base percentage and a .455 slugging percentage.
In July, when former Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi entertained trade proposals for Halladay, the Blue Jays were seeking the 22-year-old Drabek in a deal with the Phillies. At the time, Philadelphia was reluctant to part with the prized prospect. Last year, Drabek went 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA and 150 strikeouts against 50 walks across 158 innings with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading.
The Phillies selected the 20-year-old D'Arnauld -- considered to be a plus defender -- in the first round of the 2007 Draft. Last season, the young catcher hit .255 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs over 126 games with Class A Lakewood. The backstop's offensive numbers were not helped by Lakewood's spacious ballpark.
Adding three first-round picks -- Drabek was grabbed with the 18th overall selection in the 2006 Draft -- is the type of return the Blue Jays had hoped to net for Halladay, who is arguably the game's best right-handed ace. Convincing Halladay that the Blue Jays were close to being a contender was not a realistic scenario for rookie general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
Toronto was faced with the real possibility that Halladay -- with a strong desire to pitch for a perennial contender -- would walk as a free agent after the 2010 season, which would leave the club only with Draft-pick compensation in return. Under the circumstances, Anthopoulos went to work this offseason on dealing Halladay, and is closing in on finishing what Ricciardi started in July.
Beyond the Phillies, Halladay had suitors in the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Dodgers, among others. Halladay has stated a preference to pitch for a team that trains near his home in Florida. Philadelphia's Spring Training home (Clearwater, Fla.) is only a short drive from the Blue Jays' facility in Dunedin, Fla.
During the Winter Meetings, Anthopoulos noted that he was exploring three- or four-team trades in order to fulfill the Blue Jays' organizational needs. Hired during the final weekend of the regular season, Anthopoulos has made it his goal to acquire young, controllable players to help strengthen the core of the Blue Jays as he maps out the organization's long-term plan.
In Halladay, who was not planning on re-signing with the Blue Jays next winter, Anthopoulos had a prime trading chip. Dating back to 2002, the ace right-hander has gone 130-59 with a 3.13 ERA and a Major League-leading 46 complete games. Halladay -- the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner -- has won 16 or more games and logged 220 or more innings in six of the last eight years.
This past season, Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA and nine complete games for the Blue Jays. He started for the AL in the All-Star Game -- Doc's sixth selection to the Midsummer Classic -- and he spun back-to-back shutouts in his final two outings of the season. As he walked off the mound following his final home start, the fans rose to their feet and joined together in chants of "Thank you, Roy!"