The Angels have resumed their pursuit of pitcher Roy Halladay, the Toronto Blue Jays ace who would be an extremely attractive alternative to free-agent right-hander John Lackey, with whom the team continues to negotiate.
The Dodgers also have inquired with the Blue Jays about Halladay, the 32-year-old right-hander who is entering the final year of a three-year, $40-million contract. But one source familiar with their talks, who was not authorized to speak publicly, called the possibility of the Dodgers landing Halladay "a long shot."
The Angels went hard after Halladay before the July 31 trade deadline last season, but talks broke down when the Angels refused to include shortstop Erick Aybar in their offer. Then-Toronto General Manager J.P. Ricciardi was believed to have asked for a pitcher, either Jered Weaver or Joe Saunders, Aybar and outfield prospect Peter Bourjos.
A trade for Halladay this winter is expected to cost the Angels a young starter -- Weaver, Saunders or Ervin Santana -- but new Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopolous appears willing to make a deal that does not include Aybar, who hit .312 with five home runs and 58 runs batted in and played Gold Glove-caliber defense this season.
Unlike Ricciardi, Anthopolous reportedly is willing to allow teams a window to sign Halladay to a contract extension, which makes the pitcher, who will be paid $15.75 million in 2010, an even more attractive trade target.
Though Lackey, 31, has been a solid top-of-the-rotation starter for the Angels, posting a 42-22 record over the last three seasons, he is not as durable or as dominant as Halladay, who has a 148-76 record and 3.43 earned-run average in 11 big league seasons.
Lackey, who sat out the first six weeks of the 2008 and 2009 seasons because of arm injuries, is believed to be seeking a contract comparable to the five-year, $82.5-million deal A.J. Burnett signed with the New York Yankees last winter. Some team executives believe Halladay, who is a year older than Lackey, could be signed to a similar deal.
Angels General Manager Tony Reagins could not be reached for comment. Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti declined to comment specifically on Halladay, but made it clear that the mounting speculation the Dodgers might send right-hander Chad Billingsley to Toronto as part of a package for Halladay is just that, speculation.
"We would like to improve our pitching, especially the starting pitching," Colletti said. "I don't believe we can subtract from it in order to improve it."
Staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.