Halladay Isn't The Only Option For Phils

The battle to get Roy Halladay won't be an easy one. There are still a lot of hurdles to clear, but if the Phillies don't win the race to get the star pitcher, they won't be out of options in their pursuit of another starter.

As much as all of Philadelphia wants Roy Halladay, there are obstacles that the Phillies simply might not be able to overcome. For instance, Halladay won't come cheaply in terms of the prospects that the Phillies have to give up nor in terms of money. Doc is owed approximately $7 million for the rest of this season and $15.75 million for 2010 after which he becomes a free agent. Then, there's the fact that other clubs are pursuing Halladay, too. The Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, White Sox, Angels, Mets, Phillies, Cardinals and Dodgers have all expressed interest in Halladay. Odds are that Toronto wouldn't be swayed enough to deal him within the division, knock out the Red Sox and Yankees, the White Sox aren't necessarily classified as a team with a "very good chance" of winning, which is key for Halladay and the Mets likely don't have the prospects to send to Toronto. That leaves the Angels, Cardinals, Dodgers and Tigers as the main competition for Halladay.

There is also the fact of whether or not Halladay would waive his no-trade clause, but Philadelphia certainly fits the bill for the type of situation that he's looking for, so there shouldn't be an issue there.

You also have to consider that the Blue Jays don't necessarily have to trade Halladay. If they don't like the offers that are put on the table, they simply pull him back and they can either try again during the off-season or next year as the trading deadline approaches. Actually, if the economy turns around, there may be more suitors for Halladay a year from now, which would put the Blue Jays in an even better situation.

So, if the Phillies decide to go in one of those ever-popular "different directions" or if they lose out on Halladay, where else could they turn?

Besides Halladay, the three highest profile starters who could potentially be dealt include Doug Davis (Arizona), Cliff Lee (Cleveland) and Javier Vazquez (Atlanta). It's likely that you could immediately scratch Vazquez off the list, since Atlanta and Philadelphia wouldn't be too likely to hook up with each other on a major deal. The Indians haven't said that Lee is definitely going to be dealt and the D'backs are keeping the price fairly high on Davis, at least for now.

Lee (4-9, 3.47) is following up his Cy Young Award campaign of last season with another strong season for Cleveland. Lee averages nearly seven innings per start and has a relatively friendly contract - he's owed approximately $3 million for this season and has an option for $8 million in 2010 - which would guarantee the Phillies that he would be around at least as long as Halladay would be, but for almost half as much money. Considering the money and the fact that the Indians wouldn't be demanding quite as much in terms of prospects for Lee as the Jays will for Halladay, he might be a better option.

Davis (4-9, 3.41) has numbers very similar to Lee, but without the Cy Young on his resume and not quite the track record of success that Lee carries. Even so, Davis is averaging six innings per outing and has had success in the National League, something that neither Halladay nor Lee can claim. Davis is owed approximately $4.5 million for the rest of the season, but he's a free agent after the season, which means the Phillies could just be renting him. Milwaukee took an early run at getting Davis, 33, but the Diamondbacks balked at the players that the Brewers were putting on the table and said that they might just keep him and either take the free agent compensation or try to re-sign him.

Another Arizona pitcher, Jon Garland, would cost the Phillies about $4 million in salary, but has a somewhat tricky contract. He's owed about $3 million for the rest of the season and has a mutual option for 2010. If Garland were to decline to come back, the team would owe him another million, but if the club doesn't want him back, he would be owed $2.5 million. Odds are that he would exercise his option, guaranteeing him about $5.5 million for the rest of the season. The contract is further complicated by the fact that there is a clause in Garland's contract that denies whatever team he's pitching for to offer him arbitration, meaning the Phillies would get no compensation if he were to become a free agent following the season. The contract and Garland's 4.53 ERA this season would seem to push him down pretty far on the Phillies list of options.

Pittsburgh has a couple of interesting starters in Ian Snell and Paul Maholm.

Snell was sent to Triple-A on a Brett Myers sort of "rehab" assignment and is pitching very well for Indianapolis, including striking out 17 hitters in one game. The Pirates had actually been looking to basically just dump Snell's before optioning him to Indy, but now that he's turning things around, the asking price is bound to increase. Over the last two seasons, the 27 year old is 9-20 with a 5.40 ERA, but has allowed just one earned run over 20 innings at Indianapolis for a 0.45 ERA. Between this season and next, Snell is owed almost $6 million and then has two options on his contract for 2011 and 2012. If he can be had cheaply enough, Snell might be an interesting deal for someone to pursue.

The 27 year old Maholm had a breakout season last year, going 9-9, 3.71 for Pittsburgh, but he's fallen back to his career norms this season with a 6-4, 4.60 mark. Maholm is wrapped up through 2011 with a club option year for 2012, but is still owed about $12 million, including the buyout on the 2012 season, which is pretty high for a pitcher with generally just one good season on his resume.

The Phillies are known to have an interest - at least in the past they had an interest - in Brian Bannister (Kansas City) and Brad Penny (Boston). Penny (6-3, 4.71) hasn't pitched horribly for Boston as he attempts a comeback from injury, but being owed another $2.5 million plus incentives, he isn't exactly cheap for the numbers that he's putting up. The Red Sox are known to like both Carlos Ruiz and Lou Marson, but either would be tough to give up for Penny, who is only signed through the rest of this season. Bannister, 28, is having a good season with Kansas City, but they would move him in the right deal even though he pitches with a cheap contract. Bannister is owed about $8.5 million for the rest of the season and has three years of arbitration remaining before he's eligible for free agency. With a 6-7 record, Bannister is a bright spot on a bad team and his 3.66 ERA - along with his favorable contract - makes him attractive.

Perhaps the Phillies would be better served to go after one of these pitchers even though they're not at the caliber of Roy Halladay. None of these starters would necessarily require that J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek or Michael Taylor would be in the package to acquire them. That's not to say that you'll get from any of these pitchers what you would get from Halladay, but thinking long-term, acquiring a lesser pitcher, who is cheaper in terms of both contract and the players that the Phillies would have to sacrifice to get him could serve the Phillies well both down the road and be good enough to help them repeat as World Champions. Remember, last season, it was the acquisition of Joe Blanton that pushed the Phillies into the playoffs, while the Mets acquisition of the more sought after CC Sabathia did nothing to put them into the post-season.



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