Over the next 12 days we’re going to hear plenty more about Roy Halladay. Whether or not the Blue Jays actually intend to trade their 32-year-old ace, the media will continue to speculate. And why not? It makes for a good deadline storyline. Brian Cashman wants to put a damper on that. Not only has he implied that the Yankees will not empty the farm for Halladay, but he also pointed out the meaninglessness of the trade deadline this year.
To those clamoring for Halladay, Cashman refers back to the Johan Santana situation:
“I’m very comfortable with the decision we made back with the Santana situation,” he said. “Right now, we’ve got Sabathia where the Santana money is, I’ve got a center fielder in Melky, I’ve got Phil Hughes performing for us, and I’ve got Swisher in right, which Jeffrey Marquez was in the deal to help me get.
“So right now, I believe the organization is in a better position because of that type of decision-making. I know people still like to debate it. Debate all they want, I think it was the smart and right move, and we’re stronger than we would have been with one player and the money attached to the player without all the extra players we have now.”
Yes, the Yankees have Sabathia with the Santana money, but remember that Sabathia was no guarantee. The Yankees had to see him actually hit free agency (as they didn’t see with Santana), and then had to convince him to come to New York. While it’s hard to see someone turning down $161 million, two legendary pitchers have in the past. The gamble paid off for the Yankees. But if the economic conditions were different, would it have been as easy to get CC to accept money over geographic preference?
Still, the plan did work. They had an idea of what they wanted to do, and it succeeded. They’ve gotten production out of Melky and Hughes this year, and turned Marquez into Swisher. The presence of those players has helped the Yankees get to where they are today, which is a strong position in baseball’s toughest division.
Some say that the Yankees are in a different place right now, and that the new circumstances call for the Yankees to pursue Halladay. Adding him, so goes the reasoning, gives the Yanks an unmatched top of the rotation. That’s certainly true, but in baseball there are no guarantees. Even a rotation headed by Sabathia, Halladay, and Burnett wouldn’t guarantee the Yankees a World Series. It sure would help, but transactions like this come with no promises.
There’s obviously room for debate on this issue, but it’s pretty clear where the Yankees come down. They could just be setting a smoke screen, as they did when addressing the question of signing both Teixeira and Sabathia. Given the way Cashman has behaved with his prospects to this point, it’s a bit difficult to call his bluff in this case.
As to the trade deadline, Cashman says that it doesn’t matter as much this year because teams won’t be so quick to put in claims. He mentions that in 2000, he and Mets’ GM Steve Phillips would put in claims to block competitors from trading for a player. With many teams looking to shed payroll, they could well let certain players, and their salaries, go if another team claims them. Therefore, there could be a bit more activity in August than we’ve seen in previous years.
It could be a rather uninteresting deadline for the Yankees. They’ll continue to evaluate the back end of their rotation, knowing they could possibly swing a trade later on. As far as Halladay goes, though, even if J.P. Ricciardi were willing to trade him within the division, it doesn’t appear the Yankees are takers right now.