Red Sox Reportedly Vying For Cy Young Winner Halladay

Filed in Sports by on November 27, 2009 0 Comments

The bidding war is officially on for Blue Jays ace and former Cy Young Award winner, Roy Halladay—and according to several sources, the Red Sox are right in the thick of it.

Citing unnamed sources, The New York Daily News reported that the Red Sox were putting on a “full-court press” for Halladay in hopes of landing the workhorse right-hander before baseball’s winter meetings begin December 7. Reports in the Boston Herald and several online sources confirmed Boston’s interest in Halladay, though they downplayed the desire to make a trade immediately, citing statements from Red Sox officials indicating that they have no hard deadline for striking a deal.

With an atypical dearth of big name free agents this offseason, many teams are looking to trades as a way to bolster their lineups for next year. On that front, Roy Halladay is by far the best pitcher considered available this winter. The shallow free agent market boasts a few solid starters, like the Angel’s John Lackey, though none are nearly as accomplished as Halladay.

In 12 major league seasons, Halladay has a 3.43 ERA and a .255 batting average against. Known for his incredible durability, he has pitched 49 complete games, hurling nine in each of the past two seasons; he has ranked in the top four for total innings pitched six of the last eight seasons, topping that list in ’02, ’03, and ’08.

With such astounding statistics, though, comes a high asking price. The Red Sox would likely have to part with Clay Buchholz or Casey Kelly—their two top pitching prospects—among other promising young players to land the veteran starter.

Boston should be wary of dropping prime prospects for a proven player given their last blockbuster offseason deal in 2005, when they acquired Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell from Florida for a package including Hanley Ramirez. While the deal was certainly beneficial in the short term, with the Red Sox acquisitions playing major roles in the team’s 2007 championship, the long term benefits are more dubious; Lowell’s once-sterling defense has been greatly diminished by a nagging hip injury, while Ramirez has grown to be a dominant force in the NL. Ramirez finished second in the MVP race this year to the superhuman Albert Pujols, and given Boston’s lingering questions at shortstop—they haven’t had a dependable starter there since Nomar Garciaparra’s departure in mid 2004—their dealing of Ramirez is particularly prescient now.

If the Red Sox were to land Halladay, they would arguably have the best starting three in all of baseball—Beckett, Lester, and Halladay. Though pitching was one of the team’s strong points last year, additional help never hurts, especially in the postseason when a dominant front end of the rotation provides a huge advantage in short series.

Yet Boston is not the only team interested in Halladay’s services. Other hopeful contenders, most notably the Yankees, are also reportedly putting together offers. If the Yankees end up winning the Halladay sweepstakes, they would then have the best starting rotation in the league, with Halladay complimenting C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

Halladay is due to make $15.75 million next year, the final year of his contract, though that high salary is apparently not too steep to keep most suitors at bay.

This isn’t the first time the Red Sox have expressed interest in trading for Halladay; Boston inquired about making that deal at last year’s trading deadline, though they were not as serious then, merely probing to see what a trade would cost them at the time.

With other holes left for the Sox to fill this winter—like the massive gap at shortstop now that last year’s midseason pickup, Alex Gonzalez, has signed with Toronto—it remains to be seen how strong of a push Boston will make for Halladay. It will also be interesting to see if they are willing to part with their prized young players, if, for nothing else, then to keep the Yankees from swooping in and adding to their already incomparable lineup.

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