December 14, 2009. With their hands forced by a trade demand, the Alex Anthopolous-led Toronto Blue Jays dealt away a man who had been the face of their franchise for the better part of the decade. Harry Leroy Halladay III, colloquially known as Roy, and nicknamed 'Doc' after Wild West legend Doc Holliday, wanted his World Series ring, but he and everyone else knew it wasn't coming in Toronto. He had started the last seven Opening Day games in Toronto. He was widely considered the greatest pitcher Toronto had ever had, save for by some old coots who kept screaming 'Steib,' whatever that means. He was a workhorse beyond compare.
But he wasn't getting any younger, and his chances to win a World Series were running out with every year he spent toiling for the middling Blue Jays. So the Blue Jays finalized a trade that sent him to Philadelphia, who had just won the World Series in 2008 and were heavy favourites to win another one soon. In return, the Jays received three prospects: pitcher Kyle Drabek, catcher Travis d'Arnaud, and outfielder Michael Taylor. It was quickly revealed that the Jays had flipped Taylor to Oakland for corner infielder Brett Wallace.
It was supposed to be a time of renewal for the Blue Jays, a time to finally stop miring themselves in middling mediocrity and begin looking to the future. Drabek and Zach Stewart, along with recent first-rounder Chad Jenkins, could form building blocks in the Jays rotation for years to come, along with Ricky Romero. Wallace would be the first baseman of the future. d'Arnaud would join a massive stable of catching prospects that included Carlos Perez, AJ Jimenez, Yan Gomes, and a big-slugging catcher named JP Arencibia.
It was anything but.
Drabek cracked the majors for the first time in September 2010, with a very good start against Minnesota. He would go on to stink. When he wasn't hurt, he was not pitching well. The Jays would finally give up, letting him go on waivers in March 2015. He would go on to spend a little time in the majors with the White Sox, but spent the majority of 2015 in the minors. He has pitched 2 innings of major league ball since. His last contract was a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants. He played third base. He currently has no contract.
Taylor cracked the A's roster in 2011. He played 11 games, and would not return to the majors, announcing his retirement in March 2015 - a mere seventeen days before the Jays jettisoned Drabek.
Wallace, just when it appeared he was about to crack the majors, Wallace was shipped to Houston in 2010 for Anthony Gose. He made his major league debut two days later and bounced up and down from Houston to Round Rock, before finally being DFA'd to make room for Jerome Williams. Imagine being DFA'd for Jerome Williams. He would bounce around various minor league teams - including our very own Buffalo Bisons - before reappearing with the San Diego Padres. He's returning to Padres camp on a minor league deal.
Gose would appear on Jays prospect lists for a couple of years, making his debut in July of 2012 when Jose Bautista got hurt. He could never find a foothold with the Jays despite great speed and a good arm, and was traded to Detroit after the 2014 season for Devon Travis. He played 2015 with the Tigers, but was demoted in 2016. He had a spat with his manager and was subsequently dropped to AA. He was DFA'd about two weeks ago to make room for Mikie Mahtook, but cleared waivers.
Travis, thankfully, is awesome despite his frequent injuries.
d'Arnaud? Based on those other guys, you'd think his arm exploded. But no, he tore up New Hampshire in 2011 and 2012, including an Eastern League MVP award and a spot in the futures game in 2012. But after the 2012 offseason, the Jays went for it big, trading for Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, and others. They wanted one more pitcher to fill out the rotation. The reigning NL Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey, was available, but the price was steep. The Jays were forced to give up d'Arnaud, along with fireballer Noah Syndergaard and roster player John Buck, to get Dickey and his personal catcher, Josh Thole. d'Arnaud and Syndergaard are mainstays on the Mets now. Dickey ranged from good to mediocre over his time in Toronto and just signed a one-year deal with Atlanta.
As for that large stable of catchers? Jimenez has yet to make his major league debut, struggling to stay healthy while putting time in with the AAA Bisons. He turns 27 in May. Gomes was traded with Mike Aviles to Cleveland for the terrible Esmil Rogers, becoming a solid major league regular. Perez was part of the ten player deal that brought JA Happ to Toronto the first time. He wound up breaking in with the Angels after being acquired as part of a package for Hank Conger, and is a very light-hitting defense first catcher. Arencibia broke in with the Jays in a big way, but never came close to his memorable debut. He bounced around a couple minor league teams with short stints in the majors before calling it a career.
As for Doc? He threw a perfect game as a Phillie in 2010, and followed it up with a no-hitter in the playoffs that year. He reached 200 wins. But he would never win that World Series he was looking for. Injuries finally caught up with him, as that shoulder that had so faithfully worked for him finally gave out, and his back would no longer hold up. He retired a Blue Jay, signing a one-day contract.
Not only did this trade sadden the hearts of many Jays fans, all of whom loved Halladay and understood his desire to win a championship, but neither side got what they were looking for. The Jays can look back on that trade and see one good piece that they gave away and one piece they weren't able to get anything out of for six years. The Phillies, recently a laughingstock, never did get that World Series, despite rolling with a rotation consisting of Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Neither side got what they were looking for.
Maybe it would be better if this trade had never happened.