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daria-del-colliano-the-halladay-deal-is-better-for-the-braves | December | 2009 Articles

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Daria Del Colliano: The Halladay Deal Is Better for the Braves

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UPDATE: In a post on ESPN Insider, Kevin Goldstein names #13 Jason Heyward and #17 Tommy Hanson among the top 20 best major leaguers over the next decade. Hat tip to Mark Bradley.

I asked my friend Daria Del Colliano, author of the Ace of Braves blog, for her thoughts on the blockbuster Halladay deal. She actually thinks it could be a plus for us.

The news

The defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies are set to add a new ace to their rotation. The Phillies and Roy Halladay, a Cy Young winner and six-time All-Star, are closing in on an agreement that would propel a three-team trade between Philadelphia, Toronto, and Seattle, with Halladay coming to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee going to Seattle, and prospects filling in the gaps. Philadelphia is basically trading one Cy Young winner for another.

The other rumored names involved in the deal have been changing by the minute, but sources are now reporting that in addition to Halladay, the Phillies would receive Seattle prospects RHP Phillippe Aumont, RHP Juan Ramirez, and OF Tyson Gillies.

The Phillies are rumored to be sending OF Michael Taylor, C Travis d'Arnaud, and RHP Kyle Drabek to Toronto. Toronto would also be sending Philadelphia $6 million to cover Halladay's contract. Toronto then would take Michael Taylor and then flip him for Oakland's Brett Wallace, a corner infielder and former No. 1 pick that the A's received from the Cardinals in the July Matt Holliday trade.

Assuming none of that changes, here's my analysis.

The upshot

Philadelphia is securing an ace who's willing to sign for the long term, but not too long. Halladay is believed to be working out a three-year, ~$60 million contract extension with the Phillies which could keep him in Pennsylvania through 2013, likely below the market value he could receive as a free agent. Lee and Halladay's contracts both expire in 2010, but the Phillies hadn't discussed an extension with Lee because he's rumored to want a C.C. Sabathia-type contract. So Halladay was the right pitcher at the right price.

Seems like a good deal for them. But I think it could be a better deal for us, for three reasons: the Phillies just slaughtered their farm system; they decided not to keep both Lee and Halladay despite ample opportunity over the summer and this offseason; and they just made Derek Lowe look very attractive.

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Obviously, Lee had a remarkable year. He had 3.39 ERA in 12 regular season starts, and an awesome 1.56 ERA in the 2009 postseason. The team was 4-0 behind him in the playoffs, and he had two wins in the World Series. The Braves surely won't be shedding any tears when Lee goes back to the American League.

While the Phillies may have had the long term in mind, I think this is a short-sighted trade. While Halladay is arguably a slight upgrade over Cliff Lee next season, the right-hander will be 36 years old by the end of his rumored extension with Philadelphia. The Phillies are tying themselves to yet another aging veteran pitcher. And more importantly, over the past 6 months, the Phillies have given up seven of their top ten prospects for Halladay and Lee: Drabek, Taylor, D'Arnaud, Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson.

The first rumored deal, which would have cost the same seven prospects, would have kept both Lee and Halladay in Philadelphia. Cutting the tandem in half makes the trade a lot easier to swallow. After all, the Braves did have the best rotation in the National League last season. As good as Halladay is -- and don't get me wrong, he's good -- the Phillies have mortgaged a good portion of their future in two separate deals that effectively got them the same end result.

Philadelphia went hard for Halladay at the trade deadline last season but balked at giving up Kyle Drabek -- then consented to trade him, along with Lee, for a pitcher very similar to Lee, just a few months later. You have to wonder: why they didn't just trade their highly touted prospect at the deadline straight up for Halladay and save themselves the extra prospects it cost them to acquire Lee instead? Philadelphia's farm system could take years to recover the loss of talent it will suffer as a result of these trades. They have to hope that the three prospects they will receive from the Mariners will help lessen the blow.

Moreover, by taking the best available pitcher off the market, Philly may have indirectly increased Derek Lowe's trade value. Now that John Lackey has signed with Boston, Lowe could be considered the next best option for teams looking to acquire a top of the rotation starter.

Initially, the Braves were hoping to just move Lowe's contract, but I wonder if they could in fact land some offense as well. The Angels are rumored to be seriously interested in Lowe, and Juan Rivera's name has frequently been mentioned -- in my opinion, he fits the bill of the right-handed run producer that Atlanta has been seeking all winter long. But he's not the only one. A whole new slew of hitters could become available to the Braves via trade in the coming weeks and they might actually end up with a better bat than expected thanks to Philadelphia changing the offseason pitching landscape by acquiring Halladay.

I would have found it hard to imagine a scenario where Roy Halladay in a Phillies uniform would make me smile. But this deal just might make Atlanta better.

That's the beauty of baseball.

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