Roy Halladay this, Roy Halladay that, and the best pitcher traded Friday turned out to be a guy on the disabled list.
Halladay, arguably the best pitcher in baseball, remains the ace of the Toronto Blue Jays. Jake Peavy, who has not thrown a pitch in seven weeks because of an ankle injury that might require several more weeks of rehabilitation, was traded to the same team he rejected earlier this season.
In May, after the San Diego Padres agreed to trade Peavy to the Chicago White Sox for four young pitchers, he exercised his right to veto the deal. On Friday, after the Padres and White Sox agreed on a deal for the same four young pitchers, Peavy said yes.
The White Sox, at one game over .500 and in third place in the American League Central at the 1 p.m. PDT trade deadline, gambled on October.
"I didn't feel we were positioned to match up with some of the big boys in a short series," Chicago General Manager Ken Williams told reporters at U.S. Cellular Field. "You might as well have a strong enough pitching staff that you can dream."
The White Sox trailed the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central when the day started, and yet they envisioned matching Peavy and perfect-game artist Mark Buehrle in the first two games of a playoff series, against the likes of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox or CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett of the New York Yankees.
Williams said he expected a division race so tight that Peavy could have an impact even if he did not return until the final month of the season.
"This thing in our division is going to go down to the last days of September," Williams said.
Then comes the postseason, followed by another trading season in which Halladay figures to be as much of a focus as Peavy was last winter.
Toronto General Manager J.P. Ricciardi, who announced three weeks ago that Halladay was available, had maintained there would be no trade unless another team surrendered an admittedly high price.
"If there was any bluff, we would have heard about it late last night," Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said.
The Blue Jays could lose leverage in trade talks this winter, since any team acquiring Halladay would have him for one pennant race instead of two before his contract expires.
On the other hand, Peavy's value did not go down in the last two months, even with his injury, with the White Sox agreeing to revive the same trade and assume the $56 million guaranteed to Peavy through 2012.
The teams ahead of the White Sox did not stand pat, with the Tigers acquiring pitcher Jarrod Washburn from the Seattle Mariners for two pitchers and the Twins picking up shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland Athletics for a minor league infielder.
Washburn, who started Game 1 of the playoffs and World Series for the Angels' 2002 championship team, entered play Friday with a 2.64 earned-run average, third in the league behind Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals (2.08) and Edwin Jackson of the Tigers (2.59). Halladay stood fourth, at 2.68.
The Cleveland Indians, who had previously traded defending Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee and infielders Mark DeRosa and Ryan Garko, completed their rebuilding drive by sending catcher-first baseman Victor Martinez to the Red Sox for swingman Justin Masterson and two pitching prospects. The Red Sox also traded first baseman Adam LaRoche to the Atlanta Braves for first baseman Casey Kotchman.