Almost two years ago from the day that Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay was put on the DL with a lat strain, he pitched a perfect game against the Florida Marlins. If you were to ask baseball fans, let alone any Phillies fans, what they thought Halladay’s 2012 season would look like, most would say “dominating.”
Halladay has been one of the top pitchers in baseball for over a decade, and two years ago, he finally was traded to a contending team. It seemed like the stars finally were aligning for him. And for much of the past two seasons, he was dominant. But something seemed off this year, and it could have a major impact on his future with the Phillies.
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Halladay has a $20 million vesting option in his current contract for 2014 that automatically activates if three requirements are fulfilled:
- He throws at least 225 innings in 2013.
- He isn’t on the disabled list at the end of 2013.
- He throws at least 415 innings total in 2012 and 2013.
With his most recent injury putting him on the shelf for 6-8 weeks, it is very unlikely Halladay will get the 415 innings in the next two seasons. Although this is the first big injury for Halladay in a long time, it seems to have come at the worst possible point in his career. He is the current ace on a staff of aces whose team could use that extra $20 million to either keep lefty ace Cole Hamels playing in Philadelphia or bring in some offensive help to prolong the Phils reign over the NL East.
Believe me, Halladay is still the ace of this team. He is not far from the pitcher he has been the last few years, and his injury clearly had a major impact on his performance so far this season. However, the recent rise of Hamels will make bringing back Halladay in 2014 an even more complicated matter. At some point, the Phillies will have to start rebuilding, and keeping an aging pitcher around at such a large sum may not be the best financial decision for them. It may sound crazy but they may be forced to choose Hamels over Halladay.
This is all speculation. Maybe (hopefully) Halladay will come back this year and be his old, dominant self and power the Phils to the World Series. But in the back of most Phillies fans minds’ will be the lingering question: Is he starting to break down? To some, he has gone from untouchable to beat up in two quick years. I hope that’s not true, for both the Phillies and the sport of baseball’s sake.