Phillies get Halladay; Mariners acquire Lee
SEATTLE – The Philadelphia Phillies got ace Roy Halladay from Toronto and traded Cliff Lee to Seattle on Wednesday, completing a complicated, four-team deal that featured a pair of Cy Young winners.
Oakland also was part of the nine-player swap. Money was a key factor, too. The Blue Jays sent $6 million to Philadelphia with Halladay, who then agreed to a $60 million, three-year contract extension through 2013.
“This is where we wanted to be,” Halladay said at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. “It was an easy decision for me. Once the opportunity came up for me to be part of this, it was something I couldn’t pass up.”
Halladay has never pitched in the postseason. He coveted the chance to play for the two-time defending NL champs, hoping for an opportunity to win the World Series.
“I think the older you get, the longer you play in your career, the more important that becomes,” Halladay said. “The more I play, the more I realize how important that is to me.”
The trade marked the first time in history that two Cy Young winners were dealt on the same day.
Toronto sent the 32-year-old Halladay to the two-time NL champions for three minor leaguers: catcher Travis d’Arnaud, right-hander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor.
The Phillies dealt Lee to Seattle for three prospects: right-hander Phillippe Aumont, outfielder Tyson Gillies and right-hander Juan Ramirez.
Toronto flipped Taylor to the Athletics for third baseman Brett Wallace.
“Without question, Roy is one of the top pitchers in the game today,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “He has the talent, professionalism and makeup that embody what we look for in players and we’re very happy to have him in a Phillies uniform for at least the next four seasons.”
Halladay had been prominently mentioned in trade talk since the All-Star break. The five-month saga came to an end when all sides signed off on the deal.
Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA last season. The righty led the AL with four shutouts and nine complete games. The six-time All-Star won the 2003 AL Cy Young.
“Roy is known as the best pitcher in baseball and will have instant respect,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s a No. 1, a blue chipper and I expect him to stabilize our pitching staff. Roy brings a great work ethic and tremendous character and he’ll have a big presence in our clubhouse.”
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik had talked with new Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos for months, even at the Indianapolis airport as both were leaving the winter meetings last week.
Zduriencik’s interest peaked when Anthopoulos, anticipating what the Phillies might do to acquire Halladay, asked Seattle’s GM, “If I’m able to deal Halladay, would you be interested in having Cliff Lee?”
Zduriencik’s answer was something akin to “Duh!”
“When you have the opportunity to acquire a pitcher of Cliff’s caliber, immediate effects are (obvious),” Zduriencik said. “Did I think we’d be getting a guy of this caliber? You always set your expectations high. We’re really glad it came to fruition.”
Lee was the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner when the Phillies got him from Cleveland last July 29. The 31-year-old lefty went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA down the stretch, then excelled in the postseason by going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts.
Lee earned both of the Phillies’ wins in the World Series against the New York Yankees. He has one year and $9 million remaining on his contract, and talk of an extension with Seattle beyond 2010 was not part of the trade discussions.
Halladay will make $15.75 million next year. The amount of cash the Phillies got from Toronto almost covers the difference in the salaries for Halladay and Lee.
Halladay’s extension pays $20 million annually from 2011-13. There is a $20 million option for 2014 that becomes guaranteed if he meets all three of the following: pitches 225 innings in 2013, pitches 415 innings combined in 2012 and 2013 and is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2013 season.
“It’s never easy trading a player of Cliff’s caliber, but we felt it was the right move to make at this time,” Amaro said in a statement. “We’ve acquired three players that we think have big upsides and will strengthen our player development system.”
“If I had my druthers, I’d love to have both of them on the club,” he said.
Gillies, 21, hit .341 last season and led the California League with 44 stolen bases at Single-A High Desert. He scored 104 runs and had a .430 on-base percentage.
Aumont, 20, went a combined 2-6 with 16 saves and a 3.88 ERA for High Desert and Double-A West Tennessee last season. A first-round draft pick in 2007, he pitched for Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Ramirez, 21, was 8-10 with a 5.12 ERA for High Desert.
The trade gives Seattle one of baseball’s best pair of aces, teaming Lee with young star Felix Hernandez.
“We gave up three very nice prospects to Philadelphia. I think they will be a nice piece of the Phillies’ future,” Zduriencik said. “It was not an easy decision for us, but we could not pass up the opportunity to add a pitcher a Lee’s ability.”
Drabek, 22, was a combined 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA at Single-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2006 and his father is former NL Cy Young winner Doug Drabek.
D’Arnaud, 20, hit .255 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs at Single-A Lakewood.
Wallace was acquired by Oakland last season as part of the trade for Matt Holliday. At 23, Wallace hit a combined .293 with 20 home runs and 63 RBIs for three teams.
Taylor, 23, hit a combined .320 with 20 home runs, 84 RBIs and 21 stolen bases at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Taylor returns to the Bay area, where he played for Stanford.
“I’m actually really excited about it, almost as excited as my parents,” he said.
He joins a relatively small group of players who have been traded twice in one day. His stay with Toronto wasn’t long.
“It was all of 38 minutes I believe,” he said.
– AP sportswriters Ronald Blum in New York and Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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