Jays finalize Halladay megadeal
Three prospects, including Wallace, acquired from Phils, A's
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays arrived at a turning point on Wednesday. General manager Alex Anthopoulos -- charged with the challenging task of turning Toronto back into an American League powerhouse -- walked into an interview room at Rogers Centre while cameras flashed and reporters waited.
Anthopoulos and team president and CEO Paul Beeston took their seats and prepared to explain the reasoning behind arguably the biggest decisions in the history of the Blue Jays organization. Beeston began his opening comments with a statement that ushered the Toronto franchise into a new era.
"Roy Halladay is now a Philadelphia Phillie," Beeston said.
Less than three months after taking over as the Jays' new general manager, Anthopoulos helped orchestrate a complex series of trades involving four teams and nine players. Headlining the blockbuster was the arrival of Halladay in Philadelphia and the subsequent trade that sent ace left-hander Cliff Lee from the Phillies to the Mariners.
It was a bold move that could ultimately define Anthopoulos' career at the helm in Toronto.
In return for Halladay, the Blue Jays netted a trio of former first-round picks: pitcher Kyle Drabek, first baseman Brett Wallace and catcher Travis D'Arnaud. Drabek and D'Arnaud came from Philadelphia, while Wallace was acquired from Oakland in a side deal. The Jays received outfielder Michael Taylor from the Phillies and then flipped him to the A's for Wallace.
"We're very excited about the three players that we did acquire," Anthopoulos said. "We think all three of these players fit into our philosophy going forward of having some exciting, young, controllable players. These players are ones that we feel are going to be a big part of what we're doing going forward."
In that way, Drabek, Wallace and D'Arnaud represent a future for the Blue Jays that was not realistically going to include Halladay, whose contract with Toronto was set to expire after the 2010 season. The ace pitcher had made it no secret that he wanted to pitch for a team with a chance at contending for a World Series -- something the Jays could not promise.
Under the circumstances, the Blue Jays felt it was better to deal Halladay now for a package of potential impact players rather than settle for Draft-pick compensation if he walked away as a free agent. Toronto would have preferred to keep Halladay, but he was not interested in an extension, putting the Jays in a position where a trade began to make the most sense.
It made the most sense for Doc, too.
"It was an easy decision for me," Halladay said during his introductory press conference in Philadelphia. "Once the opportunity came up to be a part of this, I couldn't pass it up."
Parting with Halladay was not an easy decision for the Blue Jays, though.
"You probably can't say enough good things about him," Anthopoulos said. "As a player, as a human being, I think I can speak for everybody in the city of Toronto, across Canada, everybody with the Toronto Blue Jays organization and from an ownership standpoint, that we're honored to have been a part of his career.
"We're going to continue to follow him. This is someone that probably will be the greatest Blue Jay to ever put on a uniform here and someone that we certainly thank for everything that he did."
What Halladay did was show extreme loyalty throughout his years in a Blue Jays uniform.
Twice, Halladay inked extensions with the team, hoping the Jays would develop into a playoff contender. Originally selected by Toronto with the 17th overall pick in the 1995 Draft, Halladay went 148-76 with a 3.43 ERA and 49 complete games over 12 seasons with the Jays. He captured the 2003 AL Cy Young Award and has more wins (130) and complete games (46) than any pitcher since 2002.
This past season, the 32-year-old Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA and a Major League-high nine complete games. He started for the AL in the All-Star Game -- his sixth career All-Star selection -- and fashioned shutouts in his final two outings of the season. Halladay accomplished all of that while dealing with trade rumors that wore him down mentally.
Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi -- dismissed on the final weekend of the regular season -- attempted to trade Halladay prior to the July 31 Trade Deadline last year. At the time, the Phillies made a strong push to land the star right-hander, but the Blue Jays did not like the offers and Philadelphia swung a trade with the Indians for Lee.
"There was nothing that we liked at that time," Beeston said. "If we had liked something at that time, we would've clearly pulled the trigger. I think with respect to Alex and what he's done and the way he's gone about it, he has gotten a package that we accepted."
As part of the trade, the Blue Jays will send $6 million to the Philies to help cover a portion of the $15.75 million Halladay is owed in 2010. Philadelphia also reached an agreement on a three-year, $60 million extension with Halladay that will keep him in red pinstripes at least through 2013. The contract also includes a vesting option worth $20 million for the 2014 season.
In a way, Halladay's new extension was another example of his character. He would have likely received much more money over a longer deal if he entered the free-agent market next winter.
"He's not motivated by being the highest-paid player," said Jeff Berry, one of Halladay's representatives. "That's not what makes him tick."
Anthopoulos, who said Hallady's top three priorities are to "win, win and win," said the cash considerations and the extension were crucial in completing the deal with Philadelphia. With Halladay in the fold, the Phillies dealt Lee to the Mariners in exchange for prospects Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C Ramirez.
The Blue Jays believe the 22-year-old Drabek, who will likely begin the season with Double-A New Hampshire, has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter in the near future. Last year, he went 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA and 150 strikeouts over 158 innings between stints with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading.
Wallace, 23, is a highly-touted hitter who will be shifted from third to first base in the Blue Jays' system. He is the closest to being Major League-ready and will likely open the season with Triple-A Las Vegas, according to Anthopoulos. Last year, Wallace hit .293 with 20 home runs, 26 doubles and 63 RBIs over 138 Minor League games.
Anthopoulos said the 20-year-old D'Arnaud would likely begin the 2010 campaign with Class A Dunedin and noted that the Blue Jays believe the catcher is poised for a breakout showing. Last season, D'Arnaud hit .255 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs over 126 games with Class A Lakewood in a spacious ballpark.
With the three additions, Anthopoulos believes Toronto has the makings of a strong foundation. The reality is that the Blue Jays are probably a few years away from being a legitimate contender, but the club feels it has some young, talented pieces that bode well for the organization's long-term chances of success.
"We're on our road to getting back to where we were back in the World Series years," Anthopoulos said. "Really, this is the start of it, folks."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.