With the ink barely drying on the tale of Roy Halladay‘s successful comeback start against the Diamondbacks, I’m here to suggest something pretty outrageous. The serendipitous aligning of the stars that allowed Halladay to pitch on Sunday was long ago a plan written in ink, Whited Out, and then put back down in Sharpie.
The detour came last Tuesday night, when Doc threw only 52 of 90 pitches for strikes and didn’t figure into the decision for the Lakewood Blue Claws. He didn’t have the gas, or the control, of a Major League pitcher that night. But Saturday’s 18 inning marathon against the Diamonbacks forced the Phils to use Sunday’s probable starter Tyler Cloyd and left a situation Doc had wanted for weeks, if not months.
Halladay told our Jay Floyd and other media members Tuesday that his goal was to pitch with the Phillies on Sunday. There are a number of reasons he would want to do that including the obvious fact that Halladay is pitching for a contract for 2014. The not so obvious reason Halladay has come back? Because a comeback yesterday allows Halladay to get in two starts before the waiver-trade deadline on September 1 to audition for a contender.I’m not suggesting a conspiracy allowed Doc to throw yesterday but rather that Halladay got a much needed quality start to keep open the small-but-real possibility that the Phillies could deal him to a contender to chase a ring in 2013.
Here’s why it works: Halladay’s $4-5 million left on his contract for the year would most certainly clear waivers. His quality start on Sunday was step one in the audition - the Phillies could iron out a deal, as a favor to Doc to get him to a contender for a run at a championship prior to start two, contingent on his performance. As a favor to Halladay, the Phillies could trade him for a player to be named or a prospect of minimal value, a move that would not hurt their chances of making a run to re-sign him for 2014. Doc would presumably be the best pitcher available for the 2013 stretch run.
Don’t get me wrong: there are a number of road blocks as to why this wouldn’t work. Even though Doc was good on Sunday, he wasn’t “Doc” and he won’t ever be again. Teams will hesitate because the effectiveness he showed on Sunday was completely different than the dominance he frequently displayed in years past. And at $4-5 million left for this season, it is a hefty financial gamble that could price a number of contenders, such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Oakland out. A team bent on winning and with big pockets like the Red Sox or Dodgers could be the best fit, if there is a fit at all. But if you are the Phillies, why not trade Halladay, a man who waived a no-trade clause and accepted a below-market contract to join your team, to a contender for the final month of the season?