The Philadelphia Phillies are the big headliners right now, dealing LHP Cliff Lee to the Mariners for prospects and turning around to deal their own prospects to Toronto for RHP Roy Halladay.
Put yourself in Philly’s situation for a second – late last season, you went out and sold the farm to get LHP Cliff Lee from the Indians, saying goodbye to top pitching prospects Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marsdan and shortstop Jason Donald. Making a late season deal for a top left-handed starter for the potential of winning a World Series came at a heavy price, but now you’re stonewalled in talks of signing Cliff Lee to a contract extension – he is banking (pun intended) on testing the free agent market after 2010.
Fast forward to the MLB Winter Meetings, where the Blue Jays are now shopping the best starting pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay, around your league, and possibly your division. At this point, if you are the Phillies, it isn’t just about taking a shot at (arguably) the best pitcher in baseball, it’s about preventing other playoff contenders in the National League from getting him. The best part of the deal is locking down Halladay for an extension reported to be in the ballpark of 5-years and $100-million.
Now your only problem is your payroll has exploded in the $160 million dollar range and your farm system is completed decimated. The solution is simple enough – take your best bargaining chip, Cliff Lee, who will be a free agent at the end of 2010 anyway, and trade his $9 million dollar salary somewhere in return for a few nice prospects to help build your minor leagues back up a little.