Halladay trade talk dominates all-star hype

When Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay takes the mound during the all-star game in St. Louis on Tuesday night, fans will be wondering what uniform the Cy Young candidate will be wearing at the end of July.

For the first time in years, the 2009 MLB All-Star Game will have most of its attention focused on a Toronto Blue Jay.

Unfortunately for Jays fans, it's not the kind of attention that bodes well for the club.

When Toronto ace Roy Halladay takes the mound during the midsummer classic in St. Louis on Tuesday night, fans will be wondering what uniform the Cy Young candidate will be wearing at the end of July.

Most are betting that whatever shirt he wears, the word "Toronto" won't be on it.

At a press conference unveiling the starting lineups on Monday, broadcaster Bob Costas called Halladay a member of the Blue Jays "at least for the moment," which drew a round of uneasy chuckles.

"It's tough. Obviously, I'm somewhere that I enjoy being and have spent my entire career. There's a lot, I think, that goes into it," responded Halladay, who was named the AL's starting pitcher on Monday.

Pre-trade extension talks nixed

Any team interested in Roy Halladay will have to wait until after it strikes a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays to discuss a contract extension with the ace right-hander.

A source close to the situation told The Canadian Press that no negotiating window will be granted to Halladay's suitors prior to the completion of any trade, as sometimes happens to help facilitate a swap.

The New York Mets, for instance, received a 72-hour window to work out an extension with Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins before sending a package of four prospects to Minnesota for the left-hander. Santana ended up signing a six-year, $137.5-million deal with New York.

But a key difference is that Santana was heading into the final season of his contract when that trade was made, while Halladay still has a season and a half remaining on his deal, providing teams with ample opportunity to work out a longer-term commitment.

"I think as a player, there's that will to win, that will to do it in October and basically that's what all of this has been about. I would like that chance. I'm not saying it won't be Toronto. You'd like to be three games up in first place and not have to deal with it."

But deal with the situation he must, as significant trade winds are swirling around the Jays right-hander. Halladay has publicly said that right now he pegs a move away from struggling Toronto at "50-50."

All this makes this year's version of the midsummer classic the perfect opportunity for the dominant pitcher to showcase his skills for some would-be suitors. It will be Halladay's sixth all-star appearance, and first as a starter.

Another Jay will be joining him in the AL's starting lineup. Aaron Hill will debut at second base in place of Boston's Dustin Pedroia, who's skipping the event to be with his pregnant wife.

Hill, 27, leads Toronto in home runs (20) and runs batted in (60).

Taking the mound for the National League will be San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum, who is following up his NL Cy Young award from last year with a stellar 2009 campaign. The 25-year-old right-hander is 10-2 with a 2.33 ERA.

 A late roster change for the AL will see Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria miss out on the game due to a hand injury. Longoria was replaced in the starting lineup by Texas' Michael Young, and Chone Figgins of the Los Angeles Angels took his spot on the AL roster.

The AL is 11-0-1 in the last 12 all-star games, and 37-40-2 overall against the NL.

U.S. President Barack Obama will throw the ceremonial first pitch.


With files from The Associated Press