- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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The Philadelphia Phillies "kicked around" whether they might have to adjust Roy Halladay's contract before they decided to offer Cliff Lee a deal for two more years and twice the money they guaranteed Halladay last December, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told ESPN.com Wednesday.
A year ago, the trade for Halladay almost blew up after the Phillies told Halladay's agents their philosophy on pitcher contracts wouldn't allow them to offer him more than a three-year extension. So before the team offered Lee a five-year deal this week, Amaro said he needed to address that issue with Halladay.
"Out of respect for him, I thought it was important for me to talk to him," Amaro said, following Lee's news conference Wednesday afternoon. "When we had our negotiation, I basically told him at that point, 'Listen, we're not going to extend more than three years. That's not in the cards.'"
But Amaro said when he explained the "special circumstances" that had caused the team to consider altering that philosophy to sign Lee, Halladay told him, "Ruben, this is completely different. This is a totally different circumstance. Do what you think you've got to do to put the best team on the field. ... All I want to do is win."
That reaction, the GM said, was "exactly what I thought I would hear." But he admitted before he made the call, he and assistant GM Scott Proefrock "kicked around a couple of different possibilities" for adjusting Halladay's contract.
Halladay agreed last winter to a three year, $60 million extension, with a vesting option for a fourth season. That deal doesn't kick in until 2011, following the expiration of the three-year, $40 million contract he signed with Toronto that ran from 2008 to '10.
Because the Halladay extension was negotiated in the context of a trade, and not free agency, the Phillies felt those circumstances were different. But because they knew that in order to sign Lee, it would take so many more years and dollars than they'd offered Halladay, they might have an uncomfortable situation on their hands.
"So we definitely talked about that," Proefrock said, "how it would impact, if it would impact it. We were concerned about it. I think that's one of the reasons Ruben even called him. ... We talked about it. But I don't think it's gotten any further or gone anywhere beyond that."
Because of the way Halladay reacted when Amaro broached the subject, the Phillies have no immediate plans to address Halladay's contract.
"If I were a betting man, I think Roy is fully intending to vest his fourth year," Amaro said, "especially now that we have another pretty good left-hander to pitch with him."
To vest his 2014 option at $20 million, Halladay either would have to pitch 225 innings in 2013 or work a combined 415 innings over the final two seasons of the contract.
Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.