Halladay trade waits on extension, other details

Leave a comment

ESPN’s Jayson Stark, who still has some of the best Phillies sources in the business from his days in Philadelphia, appears to have the best handle on the Roy Halladay trade at the moment.
According to his sources, the deal isn’t yet done. Besides the need for Halladay to agree to an extension — reportedly in the three-year, $60 million range — the Jays and Phillies are still fighting over a prospect.
It breaks down like this at the moment:
Phillies: Roy Halladay, Mariners prospect, Mariners prospect
Mariners: Cliff Lee
Blue Jays: Phillippe Aumont (20, from Sea), Travis d’Arnaud (20, from Phil), Phillies prospect
Outfielder Michael Taylor might be that last prospect going to Toronto, though Stark believes the Jays are holding out for fellow outfielder Domonic Brown, the Phillies’ top position prospect. Taylor is no slouch — he ranks as one of top 10 outfield prospects in the minors — but it makes sense that the Phillies would want more. Aumont was turned into a reliever last year, and he’d be an injury risk if thrust back into the rotation. He could be a dominant late-game reliever, but he’s hardly a sure thing. D’Arnaud, a 2007 supplemental first-round pick, has been something of a disappointment and doesn’t currently project as a starting catcher in the majors, though he’s just 20 and there’s plenty of time for that to change.
There’s been little word about the other Mariners properties in the deal. The assumption when the reports leaked was that Brandon Morrow would be involved, and he could make sense in Philadelphia as a setup man. However, if Stark is right that it’s prospects going to the Phillies, then he wouldn’t qualify. Reliever Shawn Kelley also doesn’t fit the prospect description, but he’s another pitcher the Phillies should be interested in. Young outfielder Michael Saunders would be a nice piece for Toronto, but not for the Phillies. Carlos Triunfel’s upside would play anywhere.
That there’s still so much we don’t know makes it too early to name winners and losers here. However, I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to suggest that the Mariners did a great job managing to acquire Cliff Lee when they have so few star prospects to deal from. Also, I’ll be very disappointed with the Jays’ haul if they only end up with Aumont, Taylor and D’Arnaud.

Shohei Ohtani is having a brutal spring training

Getty Images

Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.

Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.

With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.

As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.

As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.

I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.