Roy Halladay could have waited two more seasons and gone elsewhere. Instead, the American League Cy Young Award winner decided to remain with the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I want to win here and be part of a team that builds something rather than going out and just trying to sign with a team that has the best chance to win," he said yesterday after agreeing to a $42 million, four-year contract.
"It's hard to say what things are like in other organizations, but I can't see myself being any happier any place else."
Halladay, 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA last season, gets $6 million this year, $10.5 million in 2005, $12.7 million in 2006, and $12.8 million in 2007.
He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2005 season.
"If you have one of the top-10 pitchers in baseball, that's a commodity that you don't want to let get away," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "We think our best baseball is ahead of us and we wanted Roy to be part of that."
Halladay made $3,875,000 last season, when he set a team record for wins. He had asked for $9 million in salary arbitration, and the Blue Jays had offered $6.5 million.
A durable pitcher whose 266 innings in 2003 led the AL for the second straight year, Halladay tied Toronto's record by winning 15 consecutive decisions last season.
In his major league career, he is 59-31 with a 3.84 ERA in 119 starts and 25 relief appearances.
Utilityman Damian Rolls agreed to terms of an $800,000, one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing with the team. The 26-year-old infielder/outfielder sought $900,000 and the Devil Rays offered $700,000. Rolls set career bests last season in games (107), hits (95), runs (43), doubles (20), home runs (7), and RBIs (46) while playing predominantly at third base. He also saw action in right field, left field, and second base. The Devil Rays also agreed to terms on a minor league contract with righthanded pitcher Todd Ritchie, who made five starts for the Milwaukee Brewers before having season-ending surgery on the rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder last June. Lefthander Damian Moss, who split last season between the San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles, also agreed to a one-year deal. Righthander Rob Bell was designated for assignment . . . Shingo Takatsu, Japan's career saves leader, finalized his $1 million, one-year contract with the Chicago White Sox after passing a physical yesterday. Takatsu is nicknamed "Mr. Zero" because he's never given up a run in the Japan Series.
Burnett on the mend
Florida Marlins righthander A.J. Burnett took another step in his recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery when he threw off a mound for the first time in nine months. Burnett, who had ligament-replacement surgery April 28, said his rehabilitation is going so well that he hopes to rejoin Florida's rotation when the season starts . . . Former New York Yankees pitcher Tommy John was hired to manage the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League. John spent 26 seasons in the major leagues and pitched for the Yankees from 1979-82 and 1986-89. He had a 288-231 career record. He was the pitching instructor for the Eastern League's Harrisburg Senators in 2002, then managed Maryvale in the 2002 Arizona Fall League. He was pitching coach of the Pacific Coast League's Edmonton Trappers last year . . . Orlando Hernandez worked out in front of scouts for about 20 major league teams in Coral Gables, Fla., and the free agent pitcher said he's nearing a full recovery from shoulder surgery. El Duque, who missed all of last season, threw 35 pitches at the University of Miami. "I'm not 100 percent, but by spring training I should be 100 percent," Hernandez said through an interpreter. "I'm at about 85 percent. I've been coming back quicker and quicker every day." Hernandez wore a jersey bearing a New York Yankees logo and the words "Fremont Towing." He went 53-38 in five seasons with the Yankees before being traded to Montreal a year ago, and said he isn't looking to sign with any particular team.