According to recent news media reports, the Phillies and Blue Jays have exchanged trade proposals in hope of working out a deal before the July 31st trade deadline. If the reports are accurate, the Phillies should just say "thanks, but no thanks" to the Blue Jays.
The prospect of adding Roy Halladay to an improving Phillies rotation is certainly very appealing, but not at the price asked for by the Blue Jays...or... at the price reportedly offered by the Phillies in a counter proposal. This is especially true considering that other top flight pitchers would seemingly be available at a much lesser price. Although many consider Halladay to be one of the best (if not the best) pitchers in baseball, there is a strong case that there is not much that separates him from another rumored available pitcher, Cliff Lee. This is the same Cliff Lee who was 22-3 last season while wining the American League Cy Young award and now shutting down opponents after a bad start in 2009.
With that in mind, lets consider the two reported Phils-Blue Jays trade proposals in comparison to what has been speculated it would take to land Lee. The Jays allegedly asked for National League Rookie of the Year candidate (and currently one of their two most effective starting pitchers) J.A. Happ, one of the top minor league pitching prospects in all of baseball, Kyle Drabek, and their top non-pitching prospect, Dominic Brown. Recognizing that this was by far too steep a price to pay, the Phillies allegedly countered by offering Happ, their reigning minor league player of the year and five tool prospect, Michael Taylor, US Olympic Team SS Jason Donald, and high level pitching prospect, Carlos Carrasco.
Although this counter offer was apparently not to the Jays liking, this might actually turn out to be some great fortune for the Phils. Reports suggest that Lee could be obtained for a package including Carrasco and Donald. Doing the math, this would be a tremendously better deal, and importantly, would keep the pipeline full to maintain a championship calibre team for years to come. Although the trade would probably require some additional players, the Phillies may not need to part with their highest rated minor league talent.
Lets not forget that the Phillies refusal to trade prospects such as Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley is exactly why they are currently sitting as the reigning World Champions. Integrating young talent such as Drabek, Taylor and Brown into the club over the next few years is the perfect way to build a winner for the long haul. Much has been made about the Phillies having a 2-3 year window, but if you consider the ages of many key players, along with today's player conditioning and financial motivation, the window is likely twice as long.
Adding Halladay would surely put the Phillies in a strong position to compete for another title this year or next. But adding Lee (or maybe Jarrod Washburn) at a much lower cost, would also put them in a good position over the next two years as well as the next several years down the road.