"I haven't even seen Doc today," Gaston said.
Gaston's response created a few chuckles. After all, an absent Halladay would set off rampant speculation, considering the ace pitcher is the biggest name being dangled as Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline inches closer.
"You can believe he's here," Gaston quickly added. "He's been here a long time."
At the rate negotiations have been going for the Blue Jays and Halladay's suitors, it's looking more and more like the pitcher will remain with Toronto come August. Tuesday marked the flexible deadline that Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi established for potentially dealing Halladay, but the club was no closer to reaching a decision.
Halladay is scheduled to start on Wednesday in Seattle, and Ricciardi indicated last week that he preferred not to send the pitcher to the hill to face the Mariners with rumors still swirling. According to an online report, Ricciardi dismissed his soft deadline when asked about the status of the trade discussions.
"It doesn't matter if it's today or tomorrow or Friday or next week," Ricciardi told Yahoo! Sports. "Nothing is close. Nothing is happening."
Ricciardi did not return several messages left by MLB.com.
Since Ricciardi revealed prior to the All-Star break that Halladay potentially was up for grabs, the Phillies had been the favorites to land the pitcher. But Philadelphia on Wednesday agreed to a deal with the Indians for lefty Cliff Lee.
The Jays reportedly asked for Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ, along with top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek and outfield prospect Dominic Brown, but the Phils rejected that proposal. According to sources, Toronto then rejected a counteroffer that did not include Drabek or Brown but was a four-for-one package centered on other prospects.
Philly's deal with the Indians does not include Happ, Drabek or Brown.
Toronto also has engaged in trade talks with the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers and Brewers. Boston reportedly is the most aggressive team among that group, though the Blue Jays are reluctant to deal Halladay within the American League East. The Angels also are believed to be turning their attention to Lee.
No matter who attempts to pry Halladay away from the Jays, the asking price will remain incredibly steep. While Toronto's chances of keeping Halladay from free agency seem slim, he is not eligible to test the market until after the 2010 season. Halladay, who is 11-3 with a 2.62 ERA this season, is under contract for $14.25 million this year and $15.75 million next season.
"I don't think much has changed," Ricciardi said. "We haven't been moved. So I just don't see anything happening. Really, there's no pulse."