I do believe Ken Rosenthal is overstating things in reporting that a Halladay deal is practically assured, but when the Jays GM comes out and admits he is listening to offers, I also can't agree with Craig's stance that Halladay isn't going anywhere.
Now, a trade sending Halladay to the Yankees or Red Sox is just as unlikely as Craig believes. It's a shame, because those two teams could seemingly offer as much as anyone. They'd even have extra incentive in doing so because they'd no longer have to worry about facing Halladay five times per year and they'd surely want to block the other team from getting him. But the Jays won't trade Halladay within the division. I imagine that the only way they'd even seriously entertain the possibility is if the Yankees or Red Sox also offered to take on Vernon Wells' obscene contract as part of the trade. Because his extension was so backloaded, Wells is due to $107 million from 2010-14, and it might be worth it to play in an empty Rogers Centre next year to get rid of that.
But the Yankees and Red Sox aren't going to pay Wells twice what he's worth. Let's look at some of the real possibilities for the Blue Jays:
Phillies - RHP Kyle Drabek, RHP Carlos Carrasco, INF Jason Donald and OF Michael Taylor
Or the Blue Jays could have John Mayberry Jr. if they preferred him to Taylor. The Phillies would get to keep their top offensive prospect, Dominic Brown. The Jays could also include lefty reliever Jesse Carlson in return for the fourth prospect.
Drabek, the son of former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek, is one of the game's top 10 pitching prospects, and Carrasco is probably still in the top 20, though his stock has fallen a bit. I see Donald as a regular at second or third, though some view him as more of a utilityman. The Jays could bring him along at third as the eventual replacement for Scott Rolen. Taylor has also always received mixed reviews, but he's hitting .339/.402/.582 as a 23-year-old in Double-A right now.
White Sox - INF Alexei Ramirez, LHP Aaron Poreda and 1B Brandon Allen
The White Sox don't have the elite pitching prospect than the Blue Jays would surely want as part of a Halladay trade, so they'd pretty much have to give up either Gordon Beckham or Ramirez. They'd probably prefer to part with Ramirez, who doesn't seem like a great fit for the Blue Jays right now. However, if Halladay goes, then other veterans will follow and it's likely that an opening at shortstop, third base or center field would soon develop.
Poreda has potential, though he might yet be more valuable as a late-inning reliever than as a starter. Allen would join David Cooper as another long-term possibility at first base for the Blue Jays. The 23-year-old has hit .290/.372/.452 in 241 at-bats in Double-A and .246/.246/.361 in 61 at-bats in Triple-A this year. The Blue Jays would likely prefer outfield prospect Jordan Danks, but he'd likely be more difficult to acquire. I don't see the White Sox as a very good match for the Jays.
Angels - RHP Jordan Walden, INF Brandon Wood, LHP Trevor Reckling and 1B/3B Matt Sweeney
Walden has big-time upside and I really like Reckling, but I still don't think this is enough, and it'd leave the Angels without any real potential impact arms in the system. Wood wouldn't fit into the Blue Jays' immediate plans, but he'd still seemingly have to be included in any trade, if only so that the Jays could flip him elsewhere. Sweeney is still playing third for now, but he's the Angels' best first base prospect. He's hit .307/.377/.513 as a 21-year-old in the California League this year.
Dodgers - OF Andrew Lambo, RHP James McDonald, LHP Scott Elbert, 3B Josh Bell and RHP Chris Withrow
What the Dodgers lack in quality, they'd have to make up for in quantity. Lambo, a 20-year-old hitting .277/.334/.448 in Double-A, does have star potential with the bat, though he won't offer much defensively. McDonald is major league ready and could top out as a No. 3 starter. Elbert no longer looks like a top-of-the-rotation guy following shoulder surgery, but he still has above average stuff. Bell has a chance to be a regular third baseman in 2011, and Withrow, a 2007 first-round pick, is a project with upside. RHP Steven Johnson, OF Kyle Russell and RHP Javier Guerra would also be options to round out a deal.
For financial reasons, I don't really see the Rangers, Cubs or Tigers in the mix. The Mets might have the money, but they have too many holes and too little depth to make a Halladay bid a smart move. The Brewers say they're not parting with Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar no matter what, so unless GM Doug Melvin changes his mind, nothing is going on that front. The four teams above would seem to be the best bets, and I still don't see a likely deal with any of them. If something is going to happen, it will probably be this winter.