Roy Halladay stayed put but Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi did pull the trigger on a deal just before the trade deadline, shipping third baseman Scott Rolen to Cincinnati.
The 34-year-old Rolen, who is batting .320 with eight homers and 43 RBI this season, asked to be moved for personal reasons.
In return, Toronto got third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and pitchers Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart in a deal struck just before Friday’s 2 p.m. deadline for making trades without waivers.
As for Halladay, who was made available nearly four weeks ago, the offers didn’t satisfy the Jays.
“We never really came close at all,” Ricciardi said an hour after the deadline passed. “We were never moved. We listened and we were never moved by a club that made us jump up and say, ’Wow this is something that will make us better in the future.”’
Ricciardi’s decision to go public with Halladay’s possible availability created a media firestorm in the ensuing weeks. Speculation ran rampant with as many as 10 teams, including Philadelphia, the Dodgers, Boston, the Yankees, Texas and Anaheim among others, all reportedly interested in making a bid for the dominant right-hander.
The GM reportedly came closest to striking a deal with the Phillies, but did not want to settle for the second-tier prospects they eventually sent to Cleveland for reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.
Philadelphia balked at the asking price of three of its finest blue-chippers.
“We knew what my wants were for this,” Ricciardi told a conference call when asked if perhaps he was asking too much for Halladay.
“We think we have one of the best pitchers in baseball, if not the best, and I think we were steadfast and honest from the beginning as to what our level of tolerance would be to move a player like this.”
After weeks under the spotlight, Halladay is now seemingly in line to finish out his contract in 2010. Ricciardi, who says he called Halladay on Friday afternoon to notify him that he would not be traded, says there’s no issue about convincing the 2003 AL Cy Young winner that he’s still wanted in Toronto.
“Roy was hand in hand all along in this venture,” said Ricciardi. “This wasn’t us shopping Roy Halladay. Upfront we told him this was something that may not happen. We told him the only way we would be moving him is if we put him in a situation where he could win this year and possibly next year, and that situation never came out.
“Roy understands completely.”
Toronto manager Cito Gaston welcomed the news that Halladay was staying put and said he doesn’t expect any hard feelings between the two sides.
“I’m pretty sure he’s probably glad that’s over with,” Gaston said. “I have to be happy about it. I’m going to have him for the next two months so I’m certainly not disappointed at all. Anytime you get a type of pitcher like Doc you’d certainly like to have him for the next two months and hopefully for the next year, too.”
Rolen, a five-time all-star and 1997 NL Rookie of the Year with Philadelphia and who helped St. Louis win the 2006 World Series, has one more year left on a US$90-million, eight-year deal he signed with the Cards.
“He mentioned he’s got some personal things he’s dealing with and if we could move him to a spot closer to his home, if we would take that into consideration, and we did,” said Ricciardi. “It ended up working out really well for us.”
Rolen grew up near Evansville, Ind.
Encarnacion is batting .209 with five homers and 16 RBI. He’ll make $4.75 million in 2010, the final year of his contract, meaning the Jays will save six million on Rolen’s contract going into next year.
Roenicke didn’t have a record in 11 appearances with the Reds. He had a 2.70 ERA in two stints with Cincinnati this season.
Stewart started the season at class-A and was eventually promoted to triple-A Louisville, where he had two saves in nine appearances.
The Jays also, acquired minor league right-hander Sean Smith from the Pittsburgh Pirates for future considerations.
The 25-year-old Smith, who appeared in the 2006 Futures Game at PNC Park, is a combined 4-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 25 games (four starts) split between triple-A Indianapolis and double-A Altoona this season.
Pittsburgh will receive a player to be named later or cash from the Blue Jays.