- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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The Toronto Blue Jays and Phillies continue to talk about a deal that would send Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. But those talks are "not going well," one source with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN.com.
The Phillies are attempting to trade for Halladay without including their top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek, in the package. But while the Blue Jays are softening on their self-imposed Tuesday deadline to trade their ace, they are not backing off their proposal for what the Phillies would have to give up.
That proposed deal would bring Drabek, pitcher J.A. Happ and the Phillies' best outfield prospect, Dominic Brown, to Toronto in exchange for the 32-year-old Halladay. And an executive of one team who spoke with Blue Jays officials this weekend came away convinced that the Jays are "not blinking" on that stand.
"If the Phillies think for one minute that they're going to get this guy for anything other than top dollar, they'd better go get Cliff Lee," the executive said.
And that, in fact, may be exactly what the Phillies attempt to do. They sent one of their top scouts, Charlie Kerfeld, to watch Lee pitch Sunday in Seattle. And a source familiar with their thinking said the idea of making a serious run at Lee was "gathering steam" among the Phillies' brass.
The price on Lee, if the Cleveland Indians decide to deal him at all, wouldn't be quite as painful as the cost of trading for Halladay -- but not by much.
"Wait 'til they find out what Cleveland is asking," an executive of one team that has been speaking with the Indians said of the Phillies. "If they think they can get Lee without giving up Drabek, my reaction is: No way."
Toronto is still having conversations, at some level, with a half-dozen teams on Halladay. But indications are that all of those teams have also balked at the initial asking price. Here's a rundown of those other suitors:
Anaheim Angels: An official of a third team says he was told Toronto asked the Angels for pitcher Joe Saunders, shortstop Erick Aybar, third baseman Brandon Wood and outfield prospect Peter Bourjos. 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.
Texas Rangers: The Jays and Rangers exchanged names over the last 72 hours. But Texas is balking both at giving up the high-end prospects it's been asked for and at paying all of the approximately $22 million left on Halladay's contract. The Rangers have asked Toronto to eat part of that money. But officials of two teams that have talked to the Blue Jays say that's not happening. "They're not taking any money," one of those officials said. "That's one of the reasons they're trading him."
Los Angeles Dodgers: Toronto also gave the Dodgers an updated list of names it would take over the weekend. But while the Dodgers haven't backed out completely, they appear to be more focused on bullpen upgrades (a la George Sherrill) at this point.
Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays: The Blue Jays have given both teams an idea of what it would take. But while they haven't ruled it out, trading Halladay within the division is still an option of last resort for the Blue Jays.
So a trade with the Phillies still "makes the most sense," according to an executive of one team that has been involved in the Halladay talks, because "they're the right fit, they have the most pieces and they have the most motivation to go get this guy." But whereas 48 hours ago those two teams appeared to be building momentum toward a deal, now one source describes talks between the two as "deteriorating."
On Saturday, the Phillies made a counterproposal that would have sent Happ and the Phillies' three top Triple-A prospects -- pitcher Carlos Carrasco, outfielder Michael Taylor and shortstop Jason Donald -- to Toronto. But the Blue Jays quickly rejected that package.
Now each side appears to be waiting for the other to get the talks moving again. One source said discussions continue to revolve around the same list of "seven or eight names" the two clubs have talked about from the beginning.
Those names include all the players above, plus catching prospect Lou Marson and hard-throwing Class A pitcher Jason Knapp, who is now believed to be back in the potential mix even though he was recently placed on the disabled list, as a "precaution," with shoulder fatigue.
This logjam in these talks comes only a day before the Blue Jays' "deadline" of Tuesday to finish a trade for Halladay. But multiple sources say Toronto has sent word it's willing to back off that deadline if it's making any progress toward a deal.
"There's no real fixed deadline," said one of those sources. "It's more of a goal. If there's a deal out there, how could you all of a sudden just stop talking about it? That doesn't make sense."
What does seem to make sense is for the Blue Jays and Phillies to eventually settle on a deal for Halladay that works for both of them. But as another day ticked off the trading calendar, that deal seemed anything but imminent Monday afternoon.
Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com.
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