Hot Stove 2010: Sox ‘making push’ for Halladay

According to the NY Daily News, the Red Sox are “putting on a full-court press” in an attempt to trade for Toronto starter Roy Halladay before the Winter Meetings on Dec 7. The article suggests that Toronto would want Clay Buchholz and Casey Kelly back, but I seriously doubt that’s gonna happen.

Is Halladay worth paying one of our Major League starters plus a prospect for? I think the answer is an unequivocal yes, though I don’t think that prospect should be Kelly. People wonder why acquiring a 33-year old pitcher is desirable, given we have a 26-year old stud in Buchholz; I think it’s a little underappreciated exactly how good Halladay is.

In the 2000s, the pitcher who had the best 200 IP season at age 32: Roy Halladay (155 ERA+)

Extend that range to include the 1990s, and the three top pitchers at age 32:

Greg Maddux (187 ERA+)
Tom Glavine (168 ERA+)
Roy Halladay (155 ERA+)
Kevin Brown (150 ERA+)

So he’s not just good, but a premier (and almost HoF caliber) pitcher at this stage of his career. Maddux, Glavine and Brown all pitched successfully in the Majors into their 40s. Halladay has actually gotten better the last several seasons, upping his strikeout ratio while really trimming the walks and HRs. He doesn’t rely on just velocity, but exquisite control of that sinking fastball, which bodes well for his future effectiveness. So we don’t really have to worry about him flaming out a year or two later.

Sox fans are lusting after Felix Hernandez, who is an excellent pitcher, but Seattle doesn’t look like they’re motivated to move him, and he’ll cost a lot more than Halladay will. Also consider the fact that Halladay has consistently been great in the AL East, home to four of the top six AL offenses in 2009 by runs scored and OPS. I think his 2.79 ERA and 3.06 FIP are all the more impressive, given he made nine starts against Boston and New York, the two top AL lineups this year and six more against Tampa, who were also pretty good. Hernandez made ten starts against Texas and the Angels, but he also got six starts against lesser offenses like Detroit and Minnesota. So he’s pretty good.

Fronting a rotation of Halladay, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett would be just incredible, and an impossible matchup in the playoffs for even the Yankees. I think acquiring him would make for a tough decision at the end of 2010, when both he and Beckett will be free agents while Lester’s salary is escalating into ace territory as well. But you cross that bridge when you get there. As they say, these things tend to take care of themselves.

Buster Olney has heard that if they manage to move him, the Jays will be lucky to get one star prospect and a second with big league potential for the right-handed pitcher. Personally, I think just getting back a pre-arbitration player of the quality of Buchholz would be a coup in itself for new GM Athanopolous. He’ll be a solid starter for sure, and has a decent chance to be a multiple All-Star if he continues to develop. To get that for five more years on the cheap while dumping a player they won’t be able to re-sign anyway is a great move for a rebuilding team like Toronto. I like it, as long as we only give up Buchholz and Michael Bowden (for example).


3 Responses to Hot Stove 2010: Sox ‘making push’ for Halladay

  1. tim wright says:

    if they can save some money by developing homegrown talent quickly I’d make the trade. Like you said, my concern would be trying to sign beckett and halladay to contracts in the same year. Won’t leave much to go after Joe Mauer that year.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    Tim, you’re right that re-signing both would mean committing a ridiculous amount of money to the rotation. I think the most likely scenario is that we extend Halladay and let Beckett walk, unless injuries/ineffectiveness change that around. As people have mentioned, Halladay/Lester is still an upgrade over Beckett/Lester.

  3. Pingback: Hot Stove 2010: The shortstop situation, more on Halladay, Sox acquire Hulett « Red Sox Talk

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