Source: Phils' latest offer rebuffed

Updated: July 26, 2009, 8:13 PM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

The Blue Jays have rejected the Phillies' latest offer for Roy Halladay, a source familiar with the two teams' discussions told ESPN.com.

On Saturday -- after the Phillies informed Toronto they would not agree to a proposal that would have sent pitchers J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek, plus outfield prospect Dominic Brown to the Jays for Halladay -- the Phillies countered with a four-for-one offer.

The Phillies took both Drabek, their top pitching prospect, and Brown, their top position-player prospect, out of the deal. Instead, they submitted an offer of Happ and their three most advanced prospects -- outfielder Michael Taylor, pitcher Carlos Carrasco and shortstop Jason Donald.

Taylor, Carrasco and Donald are all currently playing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. And they're all highly regarded enough that the Phillies had once put all three on their untouchable-prospect list. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays quickly rejected that proposal.

According to one baseball man who talked to Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, the GM informed the Phillies "that's not going to work." The Blue Jays are continuing to tell the Phillies, Angels, Rangers, Dodgers and other clubs inquiring about Halladay that they're only going to deal their ace if they get "wowed" by an offer.

And in the course of rejecting the Phillies' offer, they told Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. that they're "very comfortable" keeping Halladay if they don't get what they want.

So the two teams are still a long ways away from agreeing to a package that would send Halladay to Philadelphia. Nevertheless, the sides continue to talk. And clubs that have spoken with the Philadelphia brass portray the Phillies as a team that "still wants to make this deal." They just "want [the Blue Jays] to consider other options."

However, the Blue Jays have given no indication that the price will come down. They sent their top evaluator -- assistant GM for player personnel Tony LaCava -- out to watch the Phillies' Double-A and Triple-A teams last week. And after LaCava saw Carrasco give up six runs in six innings Friday, the Blue Jays appear more dug in than ever that they're not willing to substitute Carrasco for either Drabek or Happ.

But the Phillies are holding just as firm to the stance that they would deal one of the two but not both. And their latest offer is an indication that they're working to keep the highly touted Drabek (10-2, with a 2.80 ERA, at two levels this year) out of the deal.

It's also still possible the Phillies could turn their attention to Cleveland's Cliff Lee, whom they will scout against the Mariners on Sunday. Halladay is still clearly at the top of the Phillies' list. But one baseball man familiar with their thinking says they're "trying to keep the door open" on Lee.

The Phillies also have looked into the Pirates' Zach Duke and Seattle's Jarrod Washburn. But those two appear to be only back-burner options.

In the meantime, the Blue Jays continue to talk to a number of other clubs about Halladay. But one of the most aggressive, the Angels,is also balking at the current asking price.

It's believed Toronto told the Angels it would want either Jered Weaver or Joe Saunders, shortstop Erick Aybar and two other pieces. But an official of one club that has been in touch with the Angels said there is no scenario in which the Angels would "create a gaping hole" on their big-league club to make a trade for Halladay or anyone else.

The Texas Rangers also are still talking to the Blue Jays about Halladay, according to a source familiar with those two teams' discussions. Texas, the source confirmed, was one of several clubs given a this-is-what-it-would-take proposal by the Blue Jays in the last 72 hours.

However, the Rangers have issues beyond their hesitance to give up the slew of top prospects they've been asked for. Money is also a complication. So they would need Toronto to pay some of the approximately $22 million left on Halladay's contract. Plus they'd need the price in players to come down. So they were described by sources as being just "semi-alive" at this point.

The Dodgers also were given a list of players the Blue Jays would want in return for Halladay. And while there were indications that Clayton Kershaw is no longer on that list, the Dodgers were still being described by sources as "a long shot" to get Halladay. In fact, the Dodgers appear to be more focused on Lee, even though the Indians continue to characterize themselves as unmotivated to trade Lee.

So despite their lack of progress so far, the Phillies still seem to be positioned as the club most likely to trade for Halladay. But the Blue Jays have spent the last 24 hours trying to get the word out that they don't have to deal their ace. In the next few days, everyone will find out whether they're serious, or just trying to ratchet up the price.

Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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