Sox, Jays an unlikely fit?

The Toronto Blue Jays may be willing to listen to offers for righthander Roy Halladay, but according to a baseball source, the Jays have had no discussions with the Red Sox to this point and would be surprised if the Red Sox expressed any willingness to trade young players for the Toronto ace.

Currently in the second year of a three-year, $40 million contract, Halladay is eligible for free agency following the 2010 season. He is earning $14.25 million this year and is due to earn $15.75 million in 2010. The possessor of a career 141-68 record, Halladay is 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA this season. Since the start of last year, the 32-year-old Halladay is 30-13 with a 2.78 ERA.

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“I don’t think anything has changed, I just think, ‘You know what, why not listen? The worst we can say is no,”‘ Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

“If someone wants Roy and they’re willing to blow us away, we’d be willing to listen, that’s all I’m saying. That doesn’t mean we’d trade him, that doesn’t mean we’re looking to trade him. All it means is we’d be willing to listen.”

“In the past we weren’t willing to listen and we figured let’s just see what someone’s got out there and what someone is willing to offer,” Ricciardi said.

The fact that Toronto officials deem the Red Sox an unlikely trade partner should hardly be a surprise given the manner in which the Sox have protected their best young players, particularly their pitchers, under the watch of general manager Theo Epstein. Almost two years ago, the Red Sox had the necessary chips to acquire lefthander Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins, but the Sox were far more interested in preserving their stable of young pitchers while keeping Santana from the New York Yankees.

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“For me, the best I can do is try to avoid letting it become a distraction and go from there,” Halladay said before last night’s game against the Rays. “I understand, obviously, the economics of the game and how the game works. It’s a situation where I think if it’s best for the team, if it’s best for me, then you go from there. At this point, it’s too hard to tell.

“My goals have always been the same. I love Toronto. I want to stay here, but I want to win as well. That’s becoming more and more of a goal for me. Obviously, my first choice would be to do it here. Like I’ve said in the past, whether or not our organization and my goals line up, it’s never always going to be that way. Sometimes teams have to take steps back and I understand that. I think you always keep in mind the direction you want to go as a player.”

Halladay has full no-trade protection, which means he would have to OK any deal.

The Blue Jays are 43-42, eight games back of Boston in the AL East and seven out of the wild card — behind six other teams. According to WEEI.com, Ricciardi would not rule out dealing Halladay to a team within the division, meaning they’d listen to overtures from the Yankees or Red Sox should they be interested.

Sox officials have yet to comment about Halladay’s potential availability. While major league tampering rules prohibit the Sox from expressing any public interest in the pitcher, team officials have yet to give any indication privately, either.

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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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