07/31/09 7:23 PM ET
Halladay cools potential deal to Texas
Ace won't waive no-trade clause, ending serious talks
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
The Rangers and the Blue Jays were involved in serious discussions concerning Halladay on Thursday night, until the veteran ace informed the parties that he would not waive his no-trade clause to come to Texas.That pretty much brought an end to the discussions, and the Trade Deadline passed on Friday without the Rangers being able to make a significant move. Their primary targets were Halladay, starting pitchers Jarrod Washburn and Cliff Lee and Padres closer Heath Bell. Texas was hoping to make an impact trade, but wasn't able to get something done. "There were certain paths we went down farther than others," general manager Jon Daniels said. "I don't know if we ever got close, but there were a few cases we got past the initial phase. But in any of those deals, we would reach an impasse -- whether it was giving up young players off our big league roster that we like or a package of players that was unacceptable. "We were very aggressive in being willing to put very good players in deals. Ultimately, it wasn't meant to be." Halladay was their No. 1 target, and the Rangers, until Thursday, were working on the assumption that he might accept a deal to Texas. In the end, Halladay stayed in Toronto. The Blue Jays wanted pitcher Derek Holland, but the Rangers weren't willing to part with him.
There was some talk about putting Holland in the deal if the Blue Jays would pick up the majority of Halladay's salary, but the Rangers weren't willing to do that as well. But Holland's terrific performance in a 7-1 victory over the Mariners cooled that idea significantly. There were serious discussions about Minor League first baseman Justin Smoak, and pitcher Tommy Hunter's name came up. The Rangers tried to be creative, but the no-trade clause put the brakes on everything.
"It's no secret that he was one of the more attractive players out there," Daniels said. "There are 30 clubs in baseball that would love to have him. He fits in so many ways. At the end of the day, it wasn't meant to be."Daniels approached the Deadline trying to make a big-impact trade or nothing at all. "We'll always be aggressive in pursuing upper-echelon talent," Daniels said. "As far as bumping guys off our roster without a clear upgrade, we didn't see the value in that." The Rangers also made runs at Washburn, who was traded by the Mariners to the Tigers on Friday, and Lee, who went from the Indians to the Phillies for four Minor League players on Wednesday. Texas also asked about Bell, but San Diego ended up holding on to its All-Star closer. "We still like our club as it's currently constituted," Daniels said. "We're not going to give up; we're going to be in this until the end. We have as much chance to win as anybody. Bringing in a marginal or mediocre fit didn't have a lot of value. Unless somebody came in who could make a real impact, we didn't believing in trying to improve marginally." Jake Peavy, who is on the disabled list, was another premium starting pitcher who was traded on Friday. That one caught the Rangers by surprise, but they had known for a long time that he would not accept a trade to Texas. "We're still pretty happy with our team," club president Nolan Ryan said. "Our guys worked hard and gave it their best effort. Things don't always work out. When you value your own talent, you don't want to give up the heart of it." So the Rangers will stay with a rotation of Holland, Hunter, Scott Feldman, Vicente Padilla and Kevin Millwood. They went into Friday's game with the Mariners three games behind the Angels in the American League West and 1 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card standings. Third baseman Michael Young said he still believes that the Rangers are good enough to contend and win this year. "Yes we do," Young said. "We've been good all season, and I feel we'll get even better. That's our goal -- to continue to get better. We know we're a good team; we've proved that all season." But Young admitted hopes were raised in the clubhouse about the possibility of acquiring Halladay. The Angels made a run at him too late Friday, but they didn't get anything done either. "We were hoping, without a doubt," Young said. "He's the best pitcher in the game. We wanted to get him. Not many of us made that a secret. But having said that, there were a lot of hurdles in acquiring a player like that." Apparently one hurdle too many.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.