When I heard earlier this week that the Blue Jays were prepared to trade Roy Halladay, six names ran through my head: Jason Jarvis, Mike Gordon and Marty Jenzen. David Wells, Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd.
The names represent extremes of the trade spectrum and relate, as we know, to two blockbuster trades between the Jays and the Yankees. The first three were the package of prospects the Yanks sent to the Blue Jays in 1995 for David Cone. That would be a coup for the Yanks as Cone would win four World Series rings with the Bombers, and none of those three would amount to much. The second three were for Roger Clemens prior to the 1999 season. The legacy of that trade is best left to other posts.
As the rumors have grown surrounding Halladay — you can find the latest here on MLBTR — I pondered a post about the prior trades involving the Blue Jays and ace. So did Mark Feinsand. Since there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, we shall examine Feinsand’s charge that the three situations are not alike.
It’s hard to believe that’s all Toronto got for Cone, but don’t forget that he had only been in Toronto for three months when they traded him. He wasn’t the institution that Halladay is. Still, they should have gotten much more for him.
It should also be noted that this took place just months after the 1994 strike, and Cone’s $8 million salary was second-highest in the American League, so the Jays were probably happy enough to dump the free-agent-to-be once they were out of the race. Halladay is signed for another year, so there isn’t the same desperation to get rid of him.
As for Clemens, the Yankees traded a package led by David Wells to get the Rocket, who had requested a trade and left the Blue Jays with very limited options based on his no-trade clause. If you want to equate that to present-day, the Yankees would have to send Toronto a package led by A.J. Burnett to get Halladay. I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.
Feinsand is on the money with Clemens, but I think the Cone comparisons are slightly closer than he thinks. As they did in 1995, the Blue Jays, a franchise treading water, want salary relief. But, unlike in 1995, their fans know the value of Halladay, and they will have to land more than just three no-names who aren’t going to amount to much.
Earlier this morning, rumors swirled that the Blue Jays asked for a package of three players consisting of Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes, Mark Melancon, and Austin Jackson or Jesus Montero. Clearly, J.P. Ricciardi has his intra-division sights set high, and that’s where things stand. The Yankees will not acquire Halladay, and I highly doubt the Red Sox will either. Philadelphia seems to be the likely destination with Texas far behind. The history of Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher trades will, sadly, probably not repeat itself.