07/08/09 9:15 PM ET
Halladay talk reaches Rangers clubhouse
Availability of Toronto's ace has Texas' players intrigued
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
"I'd love to have him here," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "I don't know what price it would take to get him, but I'd love to have him.""You always want people who you feel could help the ballclub," outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "It's not my decision to make, so I don't know. But I want whatever would help this ballclub win games and get to the postseason. I'll leave that decision up to the front office." There's little doubt that Halladay is a premium pitcher who could help a serious contender. He is 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA for the Blue Jays and a member of the AL All-Star team. But the Blue Jays are in fourth place in the AL East and Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi has indicated he would be willing to entertain offers. "We're not going to give the guy away," Ricciardi told MLB.com. "We'd be willing to listen. That doesn't mean we'd be willing to trade." Rangers GM Jon Daniels declined to discuss a specific player on another team as far as trade possibilities. "We're going to look to improve the club every way we can," Daniels said. "I'll leave it at that." Over a dozen teams have already inquired about Halladay. Among the most serious suitors are the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Phillies, Brewers, Cardinals, Angels and Dodgers. There are obstacles for the Rangers to get involved in the pursuit of Halladay. At the top of the list is money. Club president Nolan Ryan has made it clear that it will be "difficult" for the Rangers to take on a big salary in any upcoming deal unless they could shed payroll in another way. Halladay makes $14.25 million this season and $15.75 million next year. He also has a no-trade clause and would have to waive it to be traded anywhere. "We're a contender," Byrd said. "Hopefully we're on his list." Finally, the Blue Jays will ask for much in return. One source said the asking price with the Rangers would start with Derek Holland and Justin Smoak. That may be too steep. There are certain players the Rangers won't trade, but the Blue Jays may settle for less than a team's best prospects. The Rangers wanted pitcher Tommy Hanson and outfielder Jordan Schafer when they talked with the Braves two years ago about Mark Teixeira. But the Braves wouldn't include them in the deal, just as the Mets were able to avoid including outfielder Fernando Martinez and pitcher Mike Pelfrey in a trade with the Twins for pitcher Johan Santana in 2008. "Obviously J.D. is working very hard," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. "If he has an idea, he'll bring it to me. But we're going to be very judicious in protecting our young assets. We worked very hard to put ourselves in this position."
But the Rangers do have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, and they do have a need for another starting pitcher.Right now, they have a rotation of Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Scott Feldman and Tommy Hunter. Their fifth starter is unknown. Dustin Nippert started on Tuesday against the Angels, but the Rangers haven't committed to starting him on Sunday against the Mariners. "We haven't made that decision yet," manager Ron Washington said. "It might be everybody since we have four days off. We just have to see where we are after Saturday." The Rangers are trying to find somebody to plug the hole left by injuries to Matt Harrison and Brandon McCarthy. Harrison is sidelined with inflammation in his left shoulder, McCarthy has a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade and both are not expected back until next month. Harrison should be ready before McCarthy, but there's no doubt the Rangers have an increasing need for another starting pitcher. Derek Holland has started seven games, but the Rangers would like to keep him in the bullpen. That may not be possible if they can't add a starting pitcher. "Everybody has a need for a starting pitcher," Washington said. "We'd certainly like to get a top-notch starting pitcher. We've got some young guys and they've handled themselves well. But we're getting to the dog days of August and experience is going to mean a lot." Halladay would cure that. The Rangers can at least dream about it, or make discreet inquiries.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.