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Today in Blue Jays History: The Roy Halladay Trade

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Fourteen years 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—also, Michael Saunders. Somewhere in there, I say that I didn’t want Happ.

Finally, we had the trade down around 2 in the morning Eastern time. It turned out that instead of a 3-way exchange, the Phillies were involved in two transactions. First, they picked up Doc and sent 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’). Gose is now trying to stick in the majors as a reliever.

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, with us getting Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor.

Hugo had a rundown of various opinions, and most thought 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 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 many exhibits in the ‘there is no such thing as a pitching prospect’ museum. But, unfortunately, he couldn’t find a 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. 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 of 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.

Travis d’Arnaud was part of the trade that got us R.A. Dickey. It’s not a great deal, but Dickey pitched 824.1 innings for us, putting up a 7.3 bWAR. d’Arnaud bounced around from team to team, but has spent the last four seasons with the Braves. He’s played in 785 games throughout his career, hitting .250/.310/.425 with 79 home runs. He won a World Series with the Braves. Travis has turned into a good major league catcher.

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. There have been very few deaths of someone I didn’t know personally hit me as hard as Halladay’s did.

I’ve seen this picked as the worst trade in Blue Jays’ history. I’m unsure if that is fair, but it didn’t turn out how we would have liked. I would have preferred to have watched 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.