07/29/09 7:47 PM ET
Bombers just observing Halladay chase
With limited payroll flexibility, Yanks may pass on Jays ace
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Halladay would be the Blue Jays' scheduled starter on Tuesday when the Bombers travel north of the border for an abbreviated two-game series, but there are no guarantees that the biggest name floating through the rumor mill this month will stick there.
"We'll see if he's still got his passport," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
As the Phillies bowed out of the Halladay standstill on Wednesday by instead dealing for the Indians' Cliff Lee, Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has been left with limited options to deal his ace as Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline looms.
Though the Yankees have expressed interest in adding another pitcher, particularly after right-hander Chien-Ming Wang underwent season-ending arthroscopic right shoulder surgery on Wednesday, they have been described as little more than interested observers in the Halladay sweepstakes.
Halladay is under contract for $14.25 million this season and $15.75 million in 2010, and New York is reluctant to add additional payroll after committing $423.5 million to sign free agents CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira over the offseason.
Those three moves, which have worked out well thus far, have pushed the Bombers' budget near a set limit. In fact, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently insisted that the Pirates pick up approximately $400,000 of what remained on Eric Hinske's contract just to complete a move for the corner infielder and outfielder in late June.
"It is intriguing to watch [Halladay], because he's such a great player. What's going to happen with him?" Girardi said. "I don't spend a whole lot of my day thinking about it."
Of course, that could change if the Red Sox delve more seriously into negotiations, with the Yankees' chief American League East rival reportedly willing to offer Clay Buchholz and prospects to land Halladay.
It was Boston's interest in Teixeira last offseason that pushed Cashman to lobby ownership for the additional $180 million needed to procure the first baseman, and it is not out of the question that a similar scenario might develop with Halladay.
But the Blue Jays would almost certainly demand a premium for dealing Halladay within the AL East, where he could torture them for at least the next year-plus.
Various reports have suggested that the Jays would need to at least acquire Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes from the Yankees' Major League roster before delving further into discussions that would poach New York's farm system.
With the Yankees apparently thinking about other options as Friday approaches, catcher Jorge Posada said that he understood why the reported price tag would be too high for adding Halladay.
"You're asking way too much," Posada said. "You're asking to give up the whole Minor Leagues and some of the guys here. I don't know. He's worth the price, but I don't think what they're asking is fair."
Not that Posada wouldn't mind calling Halladay a teammate someday.
"He's a change-maker," Posada said. "Whoever gets him is obviously going to be on a playoff run. He's a No. 1 right now. He's been that special for a long time."
The Jays have also been linked to the Angels, Dodgers and Rangers in their discussions. For the moment, it appears that if Halladay isn't destined to be Bronx-bound, New York is hoping Toronto will at least do the Bombers a favor and deal Halladay outside of the division.
"He's going to make an impact wherever he goes," Girardi said. "If he stays in Toronto, he's going to make an impact. He's one of those pitchers that's going to probably make a pretty big impact wherever he's throwing the baseball."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.