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Thoughts on Roy Halladay

July 21, 2009

The Giants are reportedly “kicking the tires” on Toronto ace Roy Halladay, and if this is true, it’s an extremely

Roy Halladay to the Giants?  Not likely.

Roy Halladay to the Giants? Not likely.

intriguing idea. The Giants already rank third in pitching RAR and Halladay would undoubtedly give them the best pitching staff in the National League. Not only would Halladay give the Giants the best 1-2-3 in the Majors for 2009; the same would hold true for 2010. The problem with acquiring Halladay is that he’s essentially a one and a half-year rental. Although Scott Boras is not his advisor, I have an extremely hard time believing that agent Greg Landry will let Halladay re-sign with San Francisco without having him thoroughly test the market first—and the teams lining up to offer him lucrative deals will be impressive. On the plus side, San Francisco would get two compensatory picks in 2011.

Halladay’s trade value is worth roughly $23 million, which under normal circumstances would indicate that the Giants would have to surrender one of the following packages (courtesy of Sky at BtB):

1. One stud position player.
2. One top 50 position player.
3. Two top 100 position players.
4. One top 10 pitching prospect and a grade B prospect.
5. Two top 75 pitching prospects.
6. Four grade B prospects.

So, just to get an idea of what this might look like:

1. Pablo Sandoval
2. Buster Posey
3. Brandon Crawford and Angel Villalona
4. Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Crawford
5. Tim Alderson and Henry Sosa
6. Brandon Crawford, Roger Kieschnick, Henry Sosa, and Conor Gillaspie

What this system does not take into consideration is that the Giants are going to be competing against multiple organizations that need Halladay’s services more than they do, and that’ll drive up the price. Toronto also seems to be looking for a shortstop, which the Giants don’t really have—Brandon Crawford has quite a few holes in his game and Ehire Adrianza is far from the Major Leagues, and there’s really no reason to believe that they’d be tempted to take either Emmanuel Burriss or Brian Bocock in a deal. Toronto’s also dealing from a position of power. They don’t have to trade Halladay, so they can afford to be picky.

The Jays seem to be entertaining offers for Halladay because of financial constraints, and that doesn’t surprise me considering the massive contracts they’ve handed out to Vernon Wells and Alex Rios. But I’m beginning to wonder if the Giants have been “kicking the tires” on Alex Rios instead, and here’s why—they’ve been linked to Rios multiple times in the past, and acquiring him would allow Toronto to keep Halladay, which would prevent an NL competitor (think LA) from acquiring him. It’d solve the Giants’ need for an impact position player under control for multiple years, and if Rios’ 2009 season is an outlier instead of an actual decline, he’d be an ideal pickup for the Giants. And considering that the Jays are seemingly looking to dump Rios, they most likely wouldn’t require much in return.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t bite on Halladay—buy low on Rios instead. Rios’ BABIP is noticeably down from his career line—he’s currently sitting around .297 when he’s typically around .330, and this could account for his lower batting average and subsequent OBP and SLG lines. In fact, if you add those 30 points to his current line, he’d be hitting .294/.351/.445, which is much closer to his career numbers. Perhaps the reason why his BABIP is lower this year is because his LD% has lowered by 3% and his infield fly ball rate has risen about 3%. Perhaps there’s a mechanical issue with his swing that’s making him pop up more often than usual—but I’ll leave that to the mechanics gurus to analyze that. He could be an extremely valuable asset in San Francisco’s lineup for years to come, and he fits the bill of what they’re looking for in a position player—young, under contract for a number of years, and with a lot of upside. It’s hard for me to imagine that a true-talent 4.8 WAR player could decline to a 2-WAR player when he’s entering his prime, and the Giants could maximize his value by placing him in center field (where he has a UZR/150 of 12.2) and moving the aging Aaron Rowand to left.

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