December 14, 2009
As you've likely heard by now, the Blue Jays, Phillies and Mariners just pulled off one of the biggest trades in baseball history. SI's Jon Heyman has Roy Halladay(notes) heading for Philadelphia and a new contract extension, Cliff Lee(notes) going to Seattle for a year of cheap pitching bliss and a number of unidentified players and prospects being shipped to Toronto to help in the rebuilding effort. We'll obviously have more on this trade in the coming days — one report has the deal not being announced as official until Wednesday — but here are a few initial impressions of each team involved in the three-way swap.
1. Seattle Mariners: It's Jack Zduriencik's world and all other GMs are just living in it. By pulling off this trade for Lee, Seattle's second-year guy just took another giant step toward installing the M's as the AL West favorite as Seattle will arguably have the best 1-2 rotation punch with Lee and Felix Hernandez(notes). Lee will be a veritable one-year bargain at $9 million and even if Zduriencik doesn't take up counterfeiting U.S. currency by next offseason — when Lee and Hernandez will both need new contracts — he'll get two draft picks in return for losing Lee to free agency. In a time when most teams are being cautious and harboring all their cheap farm talent, give Jack Z credit for recognizing an imminent opportunity for his team and seizing it.
2. Philadelphia Phillies: Fightins' fans were understandably a little more excited when they thought GM Ruben Amaro was working to add Halladay to the Hamels-Lee duo. That enthusiasm is dampened by the reality of losing their 2009 playoff hero (as well as prospects) and I'm guessing we'll likely find out that Amaro's hand was forced by an impasse in negotiations for a Lee extension. If that turns out to be the case, Amaro did a great job in securing multiple years from Halladay — a superior and more proven talent than Lee — to add to a championship core that has every right to expect another World Series trip.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: New Jays GM Alex Anthopolous had a tough mountain to climb out of the gate and we'll see the precise package of prospects that he brings back to the Rogers Centre. Successfully orchestrating a three-way deal presumably increased the size of his haul and it should bring a few good building blocks back to the Jays. But even if we knew the exact players the Jays are acquiring, it'd be impossible to declare this a total win for Toronto after watching it lose the best pitcher in franchise history.