Jays talk Halladay with Cubs

Jays talk Halladay with Cubs

TORONTO -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos was adamant earlier this month that he was not shopping any of his players this offseason -- not even ace Roy Halladay. Anthopoulos might be changing his tune.

On Friday, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reported that the Blue Jays contacted the Cubs to discuss a possible trade involving Halladay, noting that Toronto even informed Chicago that it wants to deal the pitcher this winter. When reached for comment, Anthopoulos declined to address the report.

"[I] can't comment on any trade discussions, rumors or speculation," Anthopoulos wrote in an e-mail.

Halladay, who is eligible for free agency next offseason, has made it clear that he wants to be on a team that is in a good position to reach the World Series. Coming off a disappointing 75-win showing and a fourth-place finish in the American League East, the Blue Jays do not appear close to realistically competing for a playoff spot.

Anthopoulos is currently mapping out a long-term plan for the Blue Jays, hoping to build a strong young core. Moving Halladay this offseason would help that process by potentially bringing a talented pool of prospects to Toronto's system. While discussing the organizational direction on Nov. 7, Anthopoulos said he was not attempting to deal any of his players, though.

"I'm not going to, and I'm currently not actively shopping any of our players," Anthopoulos said at the time. "That's something that is very important to me. I think in the past, there's no question with other clubs, those type of things do go on."

Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi -- dismissed on the final weekend of the regular season -- made it no secret that he was shopping Halladay leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline. The much-publicized negotiations created a media circus that wore on the Jays' clubhouse and admittedly took a toll on Halladay as well.

Anthopoulos has maintained a policy of not talking openly about trade negotiations.

The latest development indicates that the Blue Jays asked for a package of the Cubs' top prospects -- one believed to be shortstop Starlin Castro. Chicago does not want to part with Castro and is currently unable to take on the $15.75 million Halladay is owed in 2010, making a deal between the two clubs unlikely at this point.

Another stumbling block is the fact that the Blue Jays do not appear willing to accept Chicago outfielder Milton Bradley in a deal. Trading Bradley, who is owed $21 million over the next two years, would free up payroll to help the Cubs afford Halladay, who won 17 games in 2009 and captured the AL Cy Young Award in 2003.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Dodgers are also rumored to have varying degrees of interest in Halladay. Anthopoulos has indicated that he would not hesitate to trade one of his players within the AL East if it made sense. As a general philosophy, Anthopoulos is also willing to consider giving a team a window to negotiate an extension with a Jays player in trade talks if it means the return is significantly greater.

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