J.P. Ricciardi played it exactly right yesterday.
He put the word out that he would be willing to discuss a deal for Roy Halladay and then picked up his cell phone a few times over the course of the day to reiterate that to ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.com.
No fool is Ricciardi. Within a few hours, it was the biggest story in baseball. Halladay became the hot topic on sports-talk radio stations in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Chicago along with a few hundred blogs, including this one. Everybody was trying to figure out who their teams can send to Toronto for the respected right-hander.
It’s called building a market. There are only a handful of teams that have the prospects to get Halladay and the financial wherewithal to pay him to waive his no-trade rights. But all Ricciardi needs is one GM to take the bait.
Let’s try and set the field:
Phillies: They need pitching badly and rookie GM Ruben Amaro would love to show he can wheel and deal in July. Keep in mind that team consultant Pat Gillick has close ties to Toronto.
White Sox: No GM is more aggressive than Kenny Williams and the White Sox see a division there for the taking. Williams made a deal for Jake Peavy that fell through. He’ll try again.
Angels: They never spent the money they had set aside for Mark Teixeira. If they have prospects Toronto likes, they can afford Halladay.
Yankees: Brian Cashman wouldn’t trade for the younger Johan Santana. Now he’ll reverse course and trade for Halladay? That makes no sense. The Yankees will play the game and stay in it, just to make sure the price is painful for whoever does get the ace.
Red Sox: They have been unwilling to part with their young pitching. Theo Epstein’s mission will be to make sure Cashman doesn’t get him. They need a bat more than an arm.
Mets: Forget it. Their putrid farm system is bereft of prospects and Halladay wants to go to a winner.
Dodgers: They don’t need Halladay to win their division and owner Frank McCourt won’t want to take on the added expense.
Cubs: Another team lacking in prospects. Their unsettled ownership situation also could throw in a wrench in trade talks.
THE DARK HORSE
Giants: They’re always looking to make a splash and could see Halladay giving them the NL’s best rotation.
Prediction: Ricciardi has started a fire he can’t put out. Halladay will go to the Phillies by the end of the month. It’s addition by subtraction from the American League for the Yankees.