According to Richard Griffin of The Toronto Star, when the Yankees were attempting to deal for Blue Jays former ace Roy Halladay earlier this offseason they offered their 20-year-old top prospect Jesus Montero, straight-up, in exchange.
It’s not surprising that the Blue Jays declined this deal. Halladay is probably the best pitcher in baseball and one of the best players in Toronto’s history and to only come away with one prospect who is suspect defensively wouldn’t look to good. It does show that the Yankees think very highly of Montero though and fans who want to see him get a chance to flourish in the Bronx should be happy.
This news does remind me of the 90′s and Bernie Williams. See, back when Gene “Stick” Michaels was general manager of the Yankees he was a big fan of Williams and believed that he would eventually turn into the star that would help the Yankees to four World Series. However George Steinbrenner did not have the foresight or patience that it would take to develop Bernie and at one point demanded that his front office trade him.
So The Boss forced Michaels to call every team around the majors to check in to see what their interest in Williams was. So Michaels being a good employee called each GM, but because of his belief that Bernie would become a star made the calls without so much as mentioning Bernie’s name once. Then he reported back to The Boss that he had spoken with every GM in baseball and not one of them expressed any interest in Williams at all, which was not technically a lie, they just didn’t know he was available.
This is where Montero comes into the story. Ever since Steinbrenner has stepped down Brian Cashman has gained more power there has been a lot more importance put into the farm system. They still like the big name free agents (see CC Sabathia) but they are not willing to deal a ton of prospects for one pitcher, especially one like Halladay who they would have had to offer a contract extension to anyways (see Johan Santana).
Which is why I was confused this offseason after the Yankees front office met in Tampa back in November to discuss their plan of action and it included attempting to trade for Halladay. It just didn’t sound like Cashman to me. Why would he not even come close to putting together a deal good enough to trade for Santana in 2008 and then Halladay and Cliff Lee in July of ’09 and then all of a sudden want the Yankees to pursue Halladay now? Especially when Halladay, along with Lee, Josh Beckett, and Brandon Webb are all set to become free agents in just one year.
This entire thing seemed forced to me and now with the news that the Yankees offered just Montero for Halladay straight up it seems like Stick Michaels phantom-shopping of Bernie Williams all over again. Perhaps Cashman was told to trade Montero for Halladay and did just that knowing that the Blue Jays would never accept.
Or maybe I’m just reading too much into this.