In Halladay talks, secrecy is critical
GM Anthopoulos taking pains to control media circus
INDIANAPOLIS -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is doing what he can to remain invisible and keep everyone guessing. The future of ace Roy Halladay is one of the hottest topics at these Winter Meetings, and Anthopoulos does not want to add any fuel to the fire.
One day into the Meetings, Anthopoulos has already held interviews with Toronto reporters on a floor that did not include his suite and in a room occupied by a member of the Blue Jays' public-relations team. The location of Anthopoulos' suite is top secret, as to avoid any media members camping out to see who is coming and going.
Walking through the hotel lobby is also not something Anthopoulos plans on doing. Under the circumstances, he knows he is in high demand, but the first-year GM does not want to get trapped by a swarm of reporters looking for comments about the latest rumors or reports that are swirling through the halls of the Indiana Convention Center.
"It's tough to get through the lobby, especially with the media talk and so on about trades and our players and Roy Halladay," said Anthopoulos, fighting a cold and speaking with a hoarse voice.
In his own suite, Anthopoulos has been busy discussing a variety of trade scenarios with multiple clubs, though he remained steadfast in his policy of not commenting on specific details. Anthopoulos noted that he is attempting to address a handful of long-term needs via trades, and it's fair to assume that Halladay's name is involved.
One thing Anthopoulos has asked of other GMs is for them to come to his suite, not the other way around. Anthopoulos has also limited the number of people allowed into the room to one or two at a time -- a way to keep conversations focused and an attempt to stop leaks to the media -- and he said all of the GMs have been receptive to the approach.
"I asked politely if they had any problem with it -- no one has," said Anthopoulos, who had at least six meetings on his schedule for Monday. "I think everyone is fine with it. They realize that I'm going to be in demand by the media because of the stories and so on, and it's a topic that's not going away. It hasn't been a problem at all."
It is well known that Anthopoulos is not opposed to trading one of his players within the American League East, and the main suitors for Halladay still appear to be the Yankees and Red Sox. On Monday, the most interesting rumor to arise was the possible emergence of the Rays as a potential player in the Halladay sweepstakes.
Speaking with Toronto reporters about his trade talks in general, Anthopoulos noted that he has contacted at least one rival GM to discuss a possible three-team deal. Not long after that development, a report on FOXSports.com noted that Tampa Bay had asked about Halladay and might be willing to part with pitcher Wade Davis and center fielder B.J. Upton.
According to the report, the Blue Jays would then look to flip Upton to a third team. Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters that he had a few meetings during the day on Monday, but he would not classify anything as being imminent and he did not mention Halladay specifically.
ESPN's Peter Gammons later reported that the Rays denied such negotiations with the Jays.
As for the many trade fronts Anthopoulos is exploring, he said that he has let other teams know that no one on the Blue Jays is untouchable, and that has led to interesting dialogue.
"It was important to me to sort of canvas all the GMs of the teams by making everybody available, to really get a good sense of who was available on the opposing team," Anthopoulos said. "It does lead to maybe some creativity with respect to three-way trades or four-ways.
"It's very rare that two teams line up exactly with what the needs are."
Halladay, who won 17 games last season and is scheduled to earn $15.75 million in the final year of his contract in 2010, has a full no-trade clause. Halladay has expressed a desire to play for a perennial contender and reportedly has a preference for being on a team that trains near his Florida home. The Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies are the teams that best meet his criteria.
The Angels are also believed to be in on Halladay, though the pitcher would likely have to agree to a contract extension as part of a trade to the West Coast. If the Blue Jays' asking price remains extremely steep, an extension will likely come into play with any trade talks that involve the Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies as well.
The Rays did reach the World Series in 2008, but they placed third in the AL East behind the Red Sox and World Series-champion Yankees in 2009. That being the case, Halladay might not be open to a long-term deal with Tampa Bay, especially when the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner can test free agency for the first time in his career next offseason.
Jeff Berry, one of Halladay's representatives, indicated last week that the right-hander wants to be traded before the start of Spring Training, if he is going to be moved by the Jays. Berry said that Halladay will block any trades during the season in favor of walking as a free agent next offseason, leaving the Jays with only two compensatory picks in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Anthopoulos noted that he contacted Halladay's agent to discuss the situation but declined to comment further.
"I certainly did follow up," Anthopoulos said. "Obviously, any time something comes out in the media and is talked about, I want to obviously follow up for myself. I read the comments. I wanted to get some feedback there, I had some things to ask, but in terms of details about the conversation, those are things I'd like to keep between the two of us."
That's one way to keep everyone guessing. Another way?
"I've told everybody I didn't want to shake hands, just because I didn't want to get them sick, too," said Anthopoulos, who then cracked a smile. "If guys start getting sick, everyone's going to know who I spoke to."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.