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Halladay stays put through Deadline

Halladay stays put through Deadline

OAKLAND -- The circus pulled out of town and left Roy Halladay behind. After weeks of speculation and rampant rumors, the ace pitcher remained with the Blue Jays after Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline came and went.

Halladay -- worn down by all the trade talk over the past three weeks -- declined to speak with reporters in Oakland, where the Blue Jays opened a three-game set against the A's. The series marks the first for Toronto since early July that doesn't include uncertainty about Halladay's fate for the rest of the 2009 season.

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Since revealing that Halladay was potentially up for grabs shortly before the All-Star break, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi made it no secret that his asking price would be extremely high for the pitcher. When the 4 p.m. ET Deadline arrived, Toronto did not have any proposals in hand that convinced them to part ways with Halladay.

"We were just never moved," Ricciardi said. "We said in the beginning that we would listen. We listened, and we were never moved by a club really with something that made us jump up and say, 'Wow. This is something that would really make us better -- not only now, but in the future."

Throughout the past month, the Phillies were considered the favorites to land Halladay, but the two sides balked at various packages and Philadelphia went in another direction, acquiring left-hander Cliff Lee from Cleveland in a six-player swap on Wednesday. Ricciardi said only two or three teams of the 10 that inquired about Halladay were serious.

As the Deadline closed in on Friday, reports surfaced that the Blue Jays were in last-minute negotiations with the Angels on a possible trade for Halladay. Ricciardi noted that he phoned the pitcher around 2 p.m. ET to inform him that he was not going to be dealt, though. One night earlier, things did not seem as certain.

On Thursday, the Rangers made an aggressive push to acquire Halladay, but weren't able to overcome a handful of obstacles. The bigger road block was not Halladay's salary -- he's under contract for $14.25 million this year and $15.75 million in 2010. The main issue was Halladay's full no-trade clause, and the pitcher indicated that he would not approve a trade to Texas.

Ricciardi maintains that the Blue Jays never really came close to a trade.

"We never really came close at all," Ricciardi said.

As far as Ricciardi is concerned, the end result to the month-long drama was just fine.

Toronto began exploring what offers were out there for Halladay after the 2003 American League Cy Young Award winner informed the team that he might want to test free agency after next season. Considering that the Jays would only receive two compensatory picks in 2011 Draft if Halladay leaves as a free agent, Ricciardi instead decided to see if he could net a massive return.

If the right blockbuster did not present itself, Ricciardi insisted all along that the Blue Jays were content on keeping Halladay. Had Halladay been moved, Toronto likely would have explored trading more of its core players. With the pitcher, the Blue Jays have a better chance of contending in 2010.

"Right up front, we told him that this is something that may not happen," Ricciardi said. "One thing you have to understand is this wasn't us shopping Roy Halladay. This was us saying we would listen. This was Roy saying he wanted us to listen. I don't think it's real hard at all to tell him we want him here.

"The only way we would've moved him is if we could've put him in a situation where he could win this year and possibly next year. That situation never came about. Roy understands completely."

Ricciardi said he does not believe he was asking too much for Halladay, who is 11-4 with a 2.68 ERA this season and has a Major League-leading 124 wins dating back to the 2002 season.

"I don't think so, because we knew what our wants were for something like this," Ricciardi said. "We think we have one of the best pitchers in baseball, if not the best. We think he does it in the toughest division in baseball. We kind of compare him to Secretariat -- he posts.

"We knew for us to trade this type of player -- in Toronto, the face of the organization -- that we were going to have to get players that were going to be of high standard."

Ricciardi added that he doesn't plan on shopping Halladay over the offseason, but the GM said he would still be open to hearing out any offers for the pitcher. Halladay's value won't higher than it was this month, when a team could have acquired him for two postseason runs. Even so, Ricciardi said he would hope for better proposals than he received if he's going to move Halladay.

"Obviously, we didn't get blown away with anything this year, this time," Ricciardi said. "If someone came up and had a different approach to us in the winter, we would have to listen, but I think our mindset going forward is that Doc will be with us.

"I don't know what the offers are going to be. I would like to assume that the offers would be a little better than they were this time around. If they're not, we're very, very happy having Roy pitch for us."

While Halladay remained with the Jays, the club did trade third baseman Scott Rolen to the Reds in exchange for third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and pitchers Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart. There is a chance of more movement in August, when players need to be cleared through waivers before potentially being dealt.

If a team wants to add a player to its postseason roster, such a trade would need to be completed by Aug. 31. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston chuckled at the idea that Halladay might be dealt after being exposed to waivers, knowing that there would be no shortage of teams trying to claim him.

"I don't think that's going to happen," Gaston said. "For the next two months, Doc should be right here."

Halladay's teammates are thrilled that he survived the Deadline and remained in a Blue Jays uniform. Not only that, Toronto's players are ready to put the last month behind them. As tired as Halladay became of talking about his future, his teammates were also faced with daily questions about possibly losing the club's ace.

"Obviously, it got to be kind of a circus with everything that was going on," Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells said. "I know he would rather not have had to deal with that stuff, but I don't think it bothered him too much when you look at the outings that he had. I think it'll be good for everybody here, including him, to just get back to playing baseball."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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