As a pitcher, Roy Halladay has little or no downside. He’s coming off his career-high in strikeouts, he’s lead the American League in complete games the past three years and he’s gone over 220 innings the past four years. He’s durable, he’s dominant and he’s worth the $15.75-million he’ll make next year. Sure, his numbers will probably slide as he gets older and there’s always an injury risk, but here and now, he’s terrific. Who wouldn’t want him?
As a trade target, though, Halladay has some negatives. He’ll turn 33 next year, he’s in the last year of his contract and getting him would cost more than money. Forget statistics. Halladay’s Baseball Reference page is nothing but mouth watering goodness. That’s the obvious upside, but what are the negatives of a Halladay trade?
Age. To me, Halladay seems like one of those guys who will continue to pitch well into his late 30s. Just a guess, obviously, but he’s a big boy who’s held up pretty well. That said, a trade for Halladay is only worthwhile if it comes with a contract extension, and there would have to be some concern about a Yankees rotation that has A.J. Burnett and Halladay tied to multi-year contracts as they enter their mid-30s. I think it’s a minor concern, but it’s there.
Money. Halladay is in the last year of a contract that will pay him $15.75-million. Last year, Burnett was a year younger than Halladay is now — and without nearly the track record — when he landed a five-year, $82.5-million deal. Halladay is going to cost more than that. Four years, $80-million? Five years, $100-million? Maybe. Certainly a contract that pays around $20-million a year. That’s close to half of what’s coming off the Yankees’ payroll this year. I know money seems like it’s never an issue for the Yankees, but there has to be a limit somewhere. Adding Halladay could limit the Yankees ability to fill other spots, and let’s not forget that Derek Jeter is about to need a new contract, Robinson Cano is about to enter the tens of millions and guys like Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson aren’t going to be cheap forever.
Talent. If the swap were Halladay for Chamberlain or Hughes, I’d do it in a second, and I’m a huge believer in both. Even if it were Halladay for Chamberlain/Hughes and a highly touted, minor league pitcher (Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Zach McAllister or even Manny Banuelos) I’d make the trade because Halladay fills a rotation spot for the next half decade. I would hesistate, however, to include either Austin Jackson or Jesus Montero. Jackson could fill a big league spot within the next year, and he’s going to be cheap for the next several years, something that would make it easier for the Yankees to pay Halladay and the rest. I would hesitate to include Montero because of his talent, but also because he also fills a spot the Yankees need, either as Jorge Posada’s successor or as a young, cheap designated hitter (again, something that helps the Yankees pay the other guys through the middle of next decade). I think you have to look at how the pieces fit, not just how much talent you’re giving up and how much talent you’re getting back