We’ve Been Here Before

Let’s see, the Blue Jays have an ace pitcher and the Yankees may be in the trade market for one.  This has a familiar feel to it…oh that’s right it’s happened twice before- Roger Clemens and David Cone.  In 1995, the Yankees traded for Cone in the midst of a pennant race.  In 1999, they traded for Clemens at the start of spring training.  Both trades are good barometers of what it might cost to land Roy Halladay in 2009. 

The Yankees made a trade for Cone on July 28, 1995, sending three minor league pitchers to Toronto for Cone.  Cone was two months from free agency and was coming off a Cy Young-winning season in 1994.  It turned out to be one of the best trades in Yankees’ history as Cone went 9-2 and pitched the Yankees into the playoffs.  The three pitchers they surrendered were at AA and lower at the time and combined to win only 6 games in the majors over the course of their careers. 

In February 1999 the Yankees traded for Roger Clemens, sending David Wells, Graeme Lloyd and Homer Bush to Toronto.  Clemens was coming off of the 1998 Cy Young, but Wells had pitched very well in 1998 as well, going 18-4 with a 3.49 ERA.   Lloyd you may remember as the Damaso Marte of his time.  He had a rough transition to New York, but became a hero in the 1996 playoffs and settled into a productive role in the bullpen after that.  Bush, who came to the Yankees in the Hideki Irabu trade, was somewhat like Freddy Guzman all speed and no bat.  Clemens was two years from free agency at the time of the trade.

So, Halladay would probably fall somewhere in between these two trades.  He is not as close to free agency as Cone was, but he is closer than Clemens was.  Extrapolating from those two trades, the Yankees shouldn’t have to give up a pitcher of the same quality as Wells, but they would need to give up better prospects than they did for Cone. Translate that into today and I would think a package of Joba or Hughes, Melancon and another lower-level arm would be about right.  That’s a trade I wouldn’t make with Lackey available on the free agent market because once you trade for Halliday you are going to have to give him a huge deal as a contract extension.  Now, if Lackey goes elsewhere, the Yankees need to give Halliday a long look.