TORONTO -- The immediate future of the Blue Jays is directly linked to ace pitcher Roy Halladay. He is the unequivocal face of the Toronto franchise, though it is an organization that is in the midst of a transition period.
On Tuesday, Halladay earned consideration for the Baseball Writers' Association of America's American League Cy Young Award, garnering 11 third-place votes for a fifth-place finish. The league's top pitching honor -- won by Halladay in 2003 -- went to Zack Greinke of the Royals in a landslide.
For Halladay, it marked the fourth year in a row that he finished in the top five in balloting for the Cy Young -- evidence that "Doc" remains one of the true aces in the game. Halladay is the type of pitcher every team covets and one who could potentially be had in a blockbuster trade this offseason.
Coming off a disappointing 75-win showing, the Blue Jays do not appear close to being a serious postseason contender in the AL East. Rookie general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who took over for J.P. Ricciardi on the final weekend of the regular season, wants to build a team that can eventually reach a period of sustained success.
With one year remaining on his contract, Halladay has made it clear that he may not be willing to wait much longer for a chance at winning, especially considering the Jays have not tasted the playoffs since 1993. That being the case, Anthopoulos has indicated that he is not ruling out trading Halladay if it means the deal could improve Toronto's long-term chances.
Whether Halladay stays or goes, it will have a major impact on the direction of the Blue Jays.
"There are several players that I would be very reluctant to trade," Anthopoulos said shortly before the General Managers' Meetings last week. "That being said, I think I have to be open-minded to anything that can make this ballcub better going forward and better for the long-term. ... Roy's made it very clear that he wants to win, and we respect that and that's why we love him. He's as competitive as there is.
"He's probably one of the greatest if not the greatest Blue Jay to ever put on a uniform here. But he wants to win, and at this time, we were a 75-win team last year. We haven't met his criteria for winning, and we certainly don't fault him for that. We certainly want to win as well, and I think he stressed that his timeline for winning and ours may not mesh and may not match."
AL Cy Young Award Voting
Zack Greinke, KC
Felix Hernandez, SEA
Justin Verlander, DET
CC Sabathia, NYY
Roy Halladay, TOR
Halladay is under contract for $15.75 million in 2010, making it more likely that larger market teams would represent the majority of serious suitors in an offseason that has a thin crop of free-agent arms. During the GM Meetings, Anthopoulos also indicated that he would not rule out dealing any of his players within the AL East -- something Ricciardi was reluctant to do.
One way for the Blue Jays to potentially get more in a Halladay trade would be to give another team a window in which to discuss a contract extension with the pitcher. Anthopoulos declined comment on such a scenario, but MLB.com has learned that the Jays will consider granting such a window in trade talks if it means the return is significantly greater.
Another difference between Anthopoulos and Ricciardi has been the way trade discussions have been handled. Ricciardi was very public about entertaining offers for Halladay leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline last season, creating a media circus that began to wear on the pitcher and Toronto's clubhouse. Anthopoulos has been steadfast in his policy of not commenting on reports or rumors.
If Anthopoulos has been listening to offers, he has not been saying. Even so, Halladay's performance in 2009 spoke volumes in terms of his value.
Halladay opened the season with a 10-1 record and a 2.52 ERA over his first 13 outings and was named the starter for the AL All-Star team for the first time in his career. On June 12, Halladay exited a start against the Marlins after just three innings due to a groin injury that ended up sidelining him for a little more than two weeks.
The injury, combined with a lack of run support and the added stress of constantly responding to questions about trade rumors, took a toll on Halladay throughout the remainder of the season.
Over the season's final month, though, Halladay picked up four wins and posted a 1.47 ERA, completing four games and spinning three shutouts during an incredible finish. Halladay finished with a Major League-leading nine complete games and four shutouts, using his economic style to also pace baseball with a 5.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Halladay ended the year with a 17-10 record and a 2.79 ERA, marking the fourth straight season in which he compiled at least 16 victories and the second year in a row he had an ERA under 2.80. In the AL, Halladay ranked first in pitches per inning (14.2), second in innings (239), ground balls created (366) and walks-plus-hits per inning (1.13), as well as third in ERA and fifth in strikeouts (208).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.