Ricciardi playing mind games, setting Halladay deadline?

Today, Blue Jays GM JP Ricciardi said he has set a July 28 deadline for trading ace Roy Halladay.

“No one has really stepped up yet,” Ricciardi said. “We’ve got to be highly motivated to move him. We haven’t been highly motivated yet.”

Ricciardi said the deadline is necessary to get an agreement in place for what is likely to be a complicated deal. He also wants the matter resolved before Halladay makes a scheduled start July 29 in Seattle.

“In three days, not much is probably going to happen,” Ricciardi said. “It’s such a magnitude, the trade. He’s got to OK the team he’s going to, we’ve got to agree on prospects. That doesn’t happen, traditionally in baseball, in one hour. I think we need a little more time than that.”

Ricciardi declined to say how many teams have entered the bidding for Halladay, but acknowledged “there’s been enough.”

The AL starter at this month’s All-Star Game, Halladay is 11-3 with a 2.73 ERA in 18 starts. He pitched a six-hitter to beat Boston on Sunday, his first victory since June 7.”

I certainly believe that Toronto may keep Halladay. They still have him signed through next season and may contend with a healthy pitching staff in 2010. There is no true urgency to trade the team’s best player.

On the other hand, Toronto’s potential trade haul will undoubtedly decrease if JP waits until the offseason, let alone next year’s trade deadline. If JP really is serious about trading Doc, he should probably do it this season, provided he gets an offer worth accepting.

For what it’s worth, I think he’s bluffing. No, I know he’s bluffing.

Let’s say the Phillies come to Ricciardi on July 30th with an incredible offer – For arguments sake, let’s say they’ve decided to include stud prospects J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek.

JP could say, “sorry, we’ve passed our internal deadline.” But he won’t, because it’s utterly ridiculous.

If Toronto gets a great offer for Doc, even after the “internal deadline,” they will trade him. JP’s trying to bait teams into raising their offers, while adding a sense of urgency. And if I can see through it, I’m sure they can too.

-DL

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