Halladay in, Lee out; prospects in, prospects outby Eric Schwartz
Aces coming and going, prospects in and out, who said December isn’t baseball time?
The Phillies have reached an agreement that will bring Roy Halladay to Philadelphia from Toronto in exchange for prospects. Halladay has also agreed to a 3-year, $60 million contract, with a fourth-year option.
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee is headed to Seattle in a move being made to clear cash and restock the farm system.
So is it a good move or bad move? Did the Phillies give up too much or get a steal? Couldn’t the team have kept Lee for the season to form the greatest rotation in baseball?
What the Phillies get: It is rare in sports that a team can acquire a player that is a sure thing. Halladay is exactly that. He sports a career record of 148-76 with a 3.43 ERA and a Cy Young to his record. Consider that all of those stats came in the offense-heavy American League and you can figure Holladay to do even better in the NL. He has never dealt with lingering injuries and consistently gives his team over 200 innings a season. He also had nine complete games and four shutouts last season. In short: He is the definition of a front line ace.
The Phillies also get a bunch of unknown in pitching prospects Phillippe Aumont and right-hander Juan Ramirez, as well as outfield prospect Tyson Gillies. Reading up on these players the verdict is pretty split. Some have said the Phillies basically got back in talent what they gave away to Toronto, while others feel that there is not a player in the bunch with the potential of Kyle Drabek, who is heading to the Blue Jays. Aumont (21) is considered the best of the bunch, but struggled in AA last year going 1-4 with a 5.09 ERA in 15 starts.
What they lose: Cliff Lee became Mr. Philadelphia in his short time with the Phillies. From his workman-like attitude to ability to dazzle on the mound, fans loved Cliff Lee. He did everything and more than the team could have asked for when they acquired him from Cleveland, highlighted by his 4-0 postseason record.
Kyle Drabek is the one prospect that people in Philly have been raving about for the last two years. Drafted in the first round in 2006, Drabek is 19-10 with a 3.70 ERA in his minor league career. In AA ball last here he pled up 150 strikeouts in 158 innings. Amaro always said he would not give up Drabek in any trade, including one for Halladay. He changed his tune and hopefully for the right reason
Michael Taylor was another top prospect and a guy that figured to be a replacement for Raul Ibanez in a couple of years. Last year he hit .320 with 20 home runs in AA, showing the talent the Phillies hoped for when they drafted him in 2007.
Travis D’Arnaud was considered more of a long-term project at the catching position and would have had little chance of breaking through a farm system already stocked at the position.
Verdict: As long as the Phillies can win another championship with Halladay leading the way it doesn’t matter if Drabek becomes a superstar. The Phillies want to win now and Halladay fits that bill. Trading away Lee doesn’t though. The Phillies are sticking to their story that they can’t push their payroll over $140 million but with all of the money made from the past two postseasons there is no reason to believe they couldn’t have scratched out another $9 million for Lee.
In the end, they gave up prospects and got an ace while they also gave up an ace to get prospects. No holes were filled, while none were created. For now one has to give this move at least a mild thumbs up for the fact that the man many consider the best pitcher in baseball is now wearing a Phillies uniform.