In the Times yesterday, Tyler Kepner reported that the Yankees aren’t expected to be particularly aggressive as the free-agent signing period begins at midnight tonight — a fact that might cause the entire market to move slowly. See, last year they had almost $100 million coming off of their payroll — the figure this year is about half that. Obviously, it’s much harder to operate when you only have the entire payroll of the Pittsburgh Pirates coming off your books.
Over at Sports Illustrated, though, Jon Heyman has a far more Yankee-like story: It seems they’ve called the Blue Jays to express interest in Roy Halladay. But Heyman reports that they have a legitimate shot at acquiring the righty, if they can assemble the right package: New Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has indicated that he’d be willing to deal Halladay within the division, i.e., to the Yankees or Red Sox. It’s believed that predecessor J.P. Richardi wasn’t really interested in doing so.
And it might just come down to the Yankees and Red Sox, as Halladay, who has a no-trade clause, could try to engineer a trade to a team willing to give him a contract extension — one that would surely make him one of the highest-paid pitchers in baseball. (Heyman lists the Phillies, Angels, and Mets as long shots.) Once upon a time, the Jays asked for both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. But Heyman believes they might be willing to part with one of them now, especially since a trade that would land him in Boston is an equally real possibility. Halladay might be the one to demand the contract extension, but here’s guessing that — if he really is to be moved — the Jays will more than enjoy the impending bidding war.