A Major League source has confirmed that a deal is in place for the Cardinals to acquire Matt Holliday from the A’s in exchange for Brett Wallace, Triple-A right-hander Clayton Mortensen and Double-A outfielder Shane Peterson. ESPN reports that Oakland will send some cash to St. Louis to help offset some of the remaining cost of Holliday’s contract.
Holliday has long been a target of the Cardinals, who talked trade with Colorado over the winter before the Rockies shipped the three-time All-Star to Oakland. He bolsters the team’s outfield and offers the cleanup hitter that manager Tony La Russa has long coveted to slot behind Albert Pujols in the Cardinals lineup.
Holliday, 29, can be a free agent at the end of the 2009 season. His current contract pays him $13.5 million, of which approximately $6 million is still due.
Wallace, 22, was St. Louis’ first-round pick in the 2008 Draft and has rocketed through the Minor Leagues. He is currently playing at Triple-A Memphis. Mortensen, 24, is also at Memphis and was a supplementary first-rounder in 2007. Peterson, 21, was a second-round selection in 2008.
During a radio interview on The FAN590 prior to Thursday’s Blue Jays-Indians tilt at Rogers Centre, general manager J.P. Ricciardi shed a little more light on why Toronto is suddenly willing to shop ace Roy Halladay.
“What’s changed is Roy has told us that he’s going to test the free-agent market,” Ricciardi said.
Halladay is under contract for $14.25 million this season and $15.75 million in 2010, which is the final year under his current deal. The Blue Jays originally planned on discussing an extension with Halladay this coming offseason, but Ricciardi’s comments make it clear that’s not going to happen.
The chances of Toronto retaining Halladay seemed slim already, considering the fact that the club has trimmed its payroll and the pitcher has expressed that he wants to have a chance to play October baseball. With the Jays in fourth place in the AL East, and a rotation filled with injuries and young arms, contending soon doesn’t seem realistic.
Halladay is scheduled to start for the Jays on Tuesday in Seattle and Ricciardi doesn’t want the pitcher taking the mound with the thought that he might be traded in the following three days leading up to the July 31 Deadline. Ricciardi said Toronto’s internal deadline of Tuesday is flexible, depending on how close the club might be to a deal.
“If we’re down the road with something, obviously the deadline can fluctuate,” Ricciardi told reporters earlier Thursday morning. “If we’re not down the road by the 28th, nothing’s going to happen.”
The team considered to be the front-runner to land Halladay continues to be the Phillies. Even though Philadelphia is believed to be opposed to including top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek in a possible deal, the Blue Jays sent assistant general manager Tony LaCava to scout Drabek’s latest start on Wednesday.
The Brewers are also considered to have serious interest in trading for Halladay. Other teams who have been tied to Halladay in various reports include the Dodgers, Cardinals, White Sox, Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees. Ricciardi said only a few teams have approached him with serious interest.
“Some are serious and some I would say are delirious,” Ricciardi said during the radio interview.