Halladay, would he be so nice?

Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay is poised to collect a substantial payday. Preliminary indications are that Toronto will not attempt to resign the 32-year-old free agent to-be, whose contract is up after 2010. While a big team like the Red Sox, Yankees or Mets (or maybe the Dodgers or Angels) will gladly overpay Halladay, other clubs would be wise to steer clear. Here are a few good reasons:

  1. Halladay has spent his career, thus far, in the pitcher-friendly Skydome. Signing pitchers of this sort can be risky. Exhibit A? Mike Hampton. Exhibit B? Darryl Kile. The list goes on, and not all are just guys who went to pitch for the Rockies.
  2. Although Halladay will be 33 in May, he’s still likely to command $15-20 million a season for at least five years. The successful result of signing Halladay is that he collects another Cy Young award or two, pitches his new team to the playoffs year in, year out, and strengthens his future bid for the Hall of Fame. That being said, there’s also a chance that Halladay winds up at 37 as a No. 4 starter, with an 8-12 record and 4.40 ERA on a club that’s south of .500 (this mainly could happen if he goes to the Mets.) No matter what, he’s going to be expensive.
  3. Not only will Halladay cost a lot of money, he will also cost several good players. Since Toronto still holds Halladay’s contract, the best way to get him now would be through a trade, and I can’t imagine what that will take. I was in Geneva a few years ago and saw a Ferrari dealership that required prospective buyers to already own two Ferraris and be contacted in order to purchase the new one. I have to think Toronto’s negotiating strategy for trading Halladay will be somewhat akin.
  4. The track record is uneven for older pitchers who change clubs after playing most of their career with one or two teams. For every Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens, who kicks ass and wins multiple Cy Young awards, there’s a Catfish Hunter or Jason Schmidt or Kevin Brown, who has a couple good seasons, if that, and then is done. While I’m not sure if this a trend or an isolated case-by-case thing, I would think it wiser to commit more money to scouting and drafting quality players than chasing after big ticket items like Halladay.

That being said, someone will be paying hand over fist for Halladay before the winter is out, probably even within the next few weeks, mark my words.

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