Wells bracing for potential Doc deal
Outfielder is longest-tenured Jays player after Halladay
TORONTO -- Inside the Blue Jays' clubhouse, Roy Halladay is the only player with more years as a member of the organization than center fielder Vernon Wells. If rumors become reality, Wells could become the player with the most service time with Toronto before the end of the month.
Halladay and Wells have only known one franchise. Halladay was selected by the Blue Jays in the 1995 First-Year Player Draft, and he debuted with the club in '98. Wells followed suit, being drafted in '97 and debuting in '99. This could be the year that the pair will part ways after a decade spent together as leaders of the ballclub.
The Blue Jays have made it no secret that they're entertaining trade offers for Halladay and want the matter resolved before the ace takes the mound for his scheduled start on Tuesday in Seattle. Wells said he has talked to Halladay about the trade rumors that are swirling, but noted that the pitcher has done his best to avoid the topic at the ballpark.
"We've joked around about it," Wells said Wednesday. "He's quiet. I think he allows all that stuff to go on away from this clubhouse. When he's in this clubhouse, it's just about the uniform that he has on."
On Tuesday, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said that he felt it was unlikely that the club would find the right blockbuster package of players to convince it to deal Halladay prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. That doesn't mean that Halladay's many suitors won't keep trying to pry the pitcher away from Toronto.
That's the reality that Wells and the rest of Halladay's teammates are currently facing.
"It'd certainly be different," Wells said. "He's been a part of this organization for his whole career. It'd be different not seeing No. 32 and playing behind him while he's pitching. Hopefully, we won't have to face him too often if he's not with us."
During Spring Training, the Blue Jays described this season as a bridge to 2010, knowing that the rotation behind Halladay was thin and the offense came with a few question marks. With that in mind, the club had no intention of trading Halladay, and Ricciardi made that clear before the season began.
Obviously, times have changed.
Up to this point, Wells and right fielder Alex Rios have put together subpar seasons offensively, and the rotation has been decimated by injuries. After a torrid start that had the Jays in first place in the American League East in May, the club has slipped to fourth. Wells said he believes that hot start helped lead to the organization's current willingness to explore trading Halladay.
"Everybody was looking at this year, which really was the mind-set from the players all along," Wells said. "We're going to be out here and trying to win and trying to win now. From a front-office standpoint, when you're looking at the future of our ballclub, and having a chance to get three or four guys that can play at this level and contribute for Roy, then it's something you have to take a look at.
"It's not something that you necessarily have to do, because with Doc anchoring this rotation, we can win just as many games. It's just a matter of what direction you want to go as an organization."
Asked how he felt the organization was currently viewing the team's future, considering the Halladay trade rumors, Wells sidestepped the question.
"That's something I don't really involve myself in too much," Wells said. "Our jobs as players is to put ourselves in a position to play meaningful baseball in September. Whatever thoughts or avenues they want to take from a front-office standpoint is in their hands. Obviously, if a move were to be made, they'd be looking at the near future and not further down the line."
The fact that the Jays are seeing what package might be out there for Halladay seems to indicate that the organization has doubts that the current core of players can contend in 2010, when the payroll could face further trimming.
Wells doesn't see it that way. He believes that, with Halladay, the team could have a strong rotation next year, given the possible returns of injured starters Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan and the success of some of the young starters this season.
"There are some pieces to the puzzle that haven't been here this year," Wells said. "Going into Spring Training, there was talk of 2010. But from a player's standpoint, you want to win now. You're not looking forward to the future.
"That being said, with the young guys in here -- over the last couple years, young guys have been able to get needed experience -- it's just, 'Let's go out and do our jobs and give ourselves and the front office an opportunity to go out and upgrade instead of cutting things back.'"
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.