TORONTO -- Roy Halladay's desire to test the free-agent market following the 2010 season is the primary reason the Toronto Blue Jays are trying to trade their staff ace, general manager J.P. Ricciardi said Thursday.
"That's the whole reason we're going down this avenue," Ricciardi said, hours after revealing Halladay's intentions in a pre-game chat with a Toronto radio station.
Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline is July 31. Ricciardi said July 6 he would field offers for Halladay, who has a full no-trade clause. The Blue Jays have set a loose deadline of July 28 to make a deal but Ricciardi said there is room to maneuver.
"If we're down the road with something, obviously the deadline can fluctuate," Ricciardi said. "If we're not down the road by [Tuesday], nothing's going to happen."
Halladay, due to start against Tampa on Friday, declined to talk about his free agent status following Toronto's loss to Cleveland on Thursday.
"I'm not addressing it," Halladay said. "I don't even know what [Ricciardi] said. I'll [talk] after I pitch."
Halladay signed contract extensions with Toronto before the 2004 and 2006 seasons but has told the Blue Jays he will test the open market when his contract expires next year, Ricciardi said.
"He's willing to stay here and play," Ricciardi said. "Then, when he becomes a free agent, if we went to him with an extension, he'd probably say I'd rather take a chance and see what free agency is, and we would then become one of 30 teams, as opposed to the one that had the right to keep him away from that."
The 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner and this year's AL starter at the All-Star Game, Halladay is 11-3 with a 2.73 ERA in 18 starts. He pitched a six-hitter to beat Boston on Sunday, his first victory since June 7.
Halladay was placed on the 15-day disabled list and missed two turns in the rotation after injuring his groin while pitching against Florida on June 12. He is 1-2 in four starts since returning June 28.
Ricciardi said Halladay has given him a list of teams he would consider joining and said some new teams have entered the bidding for the righty in recent days, although he declined to identify them.
Ricciardi has repeatedly said he thinks Halladay will still be with the Blue Jays once the trade deadline passes.
"If we don't trade him, we still have a very good player and we still have a chance to have a very good team next year," Ricciardi said. "If we're wowed, we'll think about it. And my gut is that we don't get wowed."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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