It’s almost as if the baseball gods have set up this narrative all along, hasn’t it?
Roy Halladay is coming off arguably the worst year of his career, a former ace fallen from grace and looking for another chance. Meanwhile, the franchise with whom he became a star, the Toronto Blue Jays, are still reeling from what might just be their most disappointing season in decades and is looking to repair a largely broken starting rotation with their backs against the wall.
And just as they were destined to part ways with Doc in the search for a World Series ring and the team needing the prospects from that move, their respective quests for redemption from rock bottom could bring the back together.
If it almost seems too easy, that’s probably because it is — there had to be a catch. While you could probably say that most Blue Jays fans would be happy to have Doc back in the organization, whether it’d be a good baseball move hinges on the 36-year-old’s surgically shoulders. Even though the workhorse had supposedly worked hard to come back from it, his career-low 88.7 mph average fastball velocity in 2013 told a different story.
No, Halladay wasn’t right at all, and you didn’t even need to look at his 6.82/1.47 ERA/WHIP, 5.23 BB/9 and -0.8 fWAR through 62 innings to know it.
Any team looking to sign the righty would have to willingly ignore all of that, of course. In fact, it’d be hard to argue that, with neither time nor health being on his side, Doc’s next contract will be signed solely based on past performance; fortunately for him, he just happens to be arguably the very best pitcher of the last generation, so it’s not like he’ll have a hard time finding a guaranteed contract as a free agent this offseason.
But is Toronto the best fit for him to rebuild his value?
While his contributions to the Blue Jays franchise are unquestioned (he’s a lock for the Level of Excellence at the Rogers Center one day), how much he can contribute to the team’s chances to compete in 2014 is fairly questionable. It’s not really a matter of if he’s capable of doing it, more that the team doesn’t have a whole lot of room for what might happen if he doesn’t.
Even if the two sides agreed on a one-year, make-good deal, imagine how demoralizing it would be for the team and its fan base if the beloved Doc was having a Josh Johnson-esque season by the middle of June?
After the failure of 2013, the Blue Jays surely won’t have a whole lot of patience for players finding their groove, and falling out of the race early in the season for one more year could mean big changes for the current regime. If the team is going to bring players in, it’s going to be with the expectation that they can help the team contend — and contend immediately.
That extends to even do-no-wrong fan favourites like Halladay, and the thing is … well, it’s very uncertain whether he can provide that to this, or any team.
The upside is there, of course. After all that the veteran has accomplished, he’s at least earned that benefit of the doubt. Upside, however, suggests an undesirable floor to begin with; and being that the Blue Jays have already had their fair share of troubles with imploding starting rotations, adding one more potentially busted arm to the mix might just end up doing the team more harm than good — especially when that arm belongs to one of the city’s favourite sons.