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Today in Blue Jays history: The Roy Halladay trade

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Today, twelve years ago (really? Considering the last two years have seemed like 5, it still doesn’t seem like this happened that long ago), Alex Anthopoulos traded Roy Halladay to the Phillies for Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d’Arnaud.

It was a long day with a ton of rumours.

At first, we thought it was a 3-way deal, with Doc going to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee going to Seattle, and the Jays getting Phillippe Aumont and Dominic Brown (remember how much we wanted him?).

Soon after, more rumours, J.A. Happ, was among the players coming to Toronto soon after. Also, Michael Saunders. Somewhere in there, I say that I didn’t want Happ.

Finally, around 2 in the morning Eastern time, we had the trade down. It turned out that instead of a 3-way exchange, the Phillies were involved in two trades. First, picking up Doc, and sending Cliff Lee to Seattle for Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Juan Ramirez.

The next day, the trade still wasn’t official. Still, we did learn that the Jays would flip Michael Taylor to the A’s for Brett Wallace. (Brett would be our ‘first baseman of the future until we traded him to the Astros for Anthony Gose. Gose would be our center fielder of the future until we moved him onto Tigers for Devon Travis, who was our second baseman of the ‘if he ever could stay healthy’).

Another day later, the trade still wasn’t official, rumours were that someone failed his physical, but we were sure the transaction was going through. Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor.

Hugo had a rundown of various opinions, and most seemed to think the Jays did pretty well. Keith Law said:

(he) doubts Drabek can be a true ace because of the lack of a great third pitch but likes him as a number two or, at worst, a number three. He thinks Wallace will be a great hitter, albeit as a first baseman. And he projects d’Arnaud as a solid everyday catcher. Sounds like a plan to me.

When it was all said and done, I had a Goodbye Doc post. I love how the comment thread turned into a discussion on pie.

And we took a look at Baseball Prospectus view of the trade. Again, they liked it a lot:

It’s too easy to say that Drabek could grow into a Halladay replacement, but he has that kind of ability. Remember that the Blue Jays have shown a facility for turning lesser pitchers into league-average starters. Drabek has more talent than any pitcher in their system. D’Arnaud is a polished hitter with a strong enough arm to remain behind the plate, and while he doesn’t have the star potential Drabek has, he projects as an inexpensive, good player at a critical position.

We were all wrong on Drabek. He is one of the many many exhibits in the ‘there is no such thing as a pitching prospect’ museum. He couldn’t find that delivery that could give him the command of the strike zone..

In the comment thread, we discussed whether the Taylor/Wallace trade was a good move or not. It morphed into a debate about if a player as big as Taylor could stay a ‘5-tool’ player for long. As it turned out, he was more a no-tool player in the majors. He played 37 MLB games, spread out over four seasons, for the A’s and the White Sox. He was last seen, in the MLB, in 2014.

Wallace has played six seasons in the majors, hitting .238/.316/.389 in 494 at-bats split between the Astros and the Padres. He last played in the majors in 2016.

We traded Taylor for Wallace, who, in turn, was traded for Gose, who was traded for Devon Travis. Travis, when healthy, was good, but he wasn’t healthy enough.

And Travis d’Arnaud was part of the trade that got us R.A. Dickey. Not a great deal, but Dickey pitched 824.1 innings for us, putting up a 7.3 bWAR. d’Arnaud has bounced around from team to team over the past few years. Career, he’s played in 604 games, hitting .249/.311/.419 with 72 home runs. He won a World Series ring this year.

And Doc, well, you know. He played four seasons with the Phillies (and he never looked right in that red Phillies jersey). He won another Cy Young and finished second the following season. And he finally made it to the playoffs, where he pitched a no-hitter. Injuries shortened his career. He signed a one-day contract with the Jays to retire a Blue Jay. And, well, you know the rest of his story.

I’ve seen this picked as the worst in Blue Jays’ history. I’m not sure if that is fair, but it didn’t turn out the way we would have liked. I would have preferred to have had the pleasure of watching Doc play out his career as a Blue Jay, but that wasn’t in the cards. I wonder what it would have been like to have him and Jose Bautista together, both at the top of their game.