The Blue Jays have not lowered their price in trade discussions with the Rangers concerning ace right-hander Roy Halladay.
The Jays still want left-hander Derek Holland, first baseman Justin Smoak and two other prospects, according to major-league sources.
Holland, 22, was brilliant Thursday night against the Mariners, coming within one out of a complete game in the Rangers’ 7-1 victory.
Afterward, team president Nolan Ryan told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the Rangers were actively seeking Halladay, but suggested that Holland would not be part of a deal.
Meanwhile, Evan Grant of D Magazine reported that the Rangers asked the Blue Jays to pay a significant portion of the approximately $4.75 million remaining on Halladay’s 2009 salary.
One source indicated recently that the Rangers aren’t nearly as concerned about Halladay’s $15.75 million salary for 2010, reasoning that the roster and/or payroll could be adjusted before then.
But there is one other obstacle: Halladay’s no-trade clause.
Halladay wants to play for a perennial contender. While he has not ruled out a trade to the Rangers, he also has not indicated certain approval, according to a source.
Yet, there was one clear sign of how serious the talks had become on Thursday: The Jays hurriedly dispatched a scout to watch Holland’s start in Arlington. He promptly allowed one run — and only two hits — and earned the win.
Holland is firmly among the Rangers’ top four prospects, according to an executive of another club, although the precise order is open to debate. The others in the group are Class AAA right-hander Neftali Feliz, Class AAA first baseman Justin Smoak and Class A left-hander Martin Perez.
In recent Halladay trade discussions, the Blue Jays asked the Phillies for what many believed to be their three most talented prospects: right-hander Kyle Drabek, left-hander J.A. Happ and outfielder Dominic Brown.
So, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Jays asked for three players from among the group of Feliz, Smoak, Perez and Holland.
But the Jays did show greater flexibility in their discussions with the Dodgers on Thursday than they had with the Phillies in previous days — perhaps because they lost some leverage when Philadelphia traded for Cliff Lee.
If the Jays offer the Rangers multiple avenues to meet the price for Halladay, the chances of reaching a deal would dramatically improve. That’s especially true, because Perez is not the only standout pitching prospect at Class A Hickory. Right-handers Wilmer Font and Wilfredo Boscan are also having outstanding seasons there.