He learned Thursday the Phillies had acquired Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt for left-hander J.A. Happ, outfield prospect Anthony Gose and infield prospect Jonathan Villar. The Phillies also received $11 million from Houston to pay a portion of the roughly $23 million remaining on Oswalt's contract.
Oswalt will make his Phillies debut Friday night against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. After learning of the deal, the Phils posted a 3-2 victory over the D-backs on Wilson Valdez's walk-off single in the 11th inning.
"Coming from a team that wasn't able to do things like this, getting to this point in the season and getting probably one of the best pitchers out there, that says a lot," Halladay said in the Phillies' dugout at Citizens Bank Park. "The team is dedicated to winning. They're not going to rest."
The past 13 months have been a pitching whirlwind for the Phillies.
They signed former Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez on July 15, 2009. Fourteen days later, they shipped four prospects to the Cleveland Indians for another former Cy Young Award winner in Cliff Lee. Nearly five months later, the Phillies sent three prospects to the Toronto Blue Jays for Halladay, who is also a former Cy Young Award winner. And in what will be an eternally questionable move amongst Phillies fans and baseball lifers, Philadelphia traded Lee the same day to the Seattle Mariners for three prospects.
Then along came Oswalt, who waived his no-trade clause after consulting with Phils closer Brad Lidge and others about the team, the city and the fans.
"We think that we acquired one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
The realization that the Philllies suddenly had three aces in their rotation -- Halladay, Oswalt and left-hander Cole Hamels -- had the clubhouse buzzing before Thursday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"We're in a period of time where we have a great chance to win," Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer said. "I think this organization respects how hard it is to win. I think the players understand how hard it is to win. I think the coaching staff understands how hard it is to win. And we're making a nice little push right now."
There had been reports Oswalt (6-12, 3.42 ERA) would not waive his no-trade clause to pitch in Philadelphia unless the Phillies, who were satisfied with the medical reports they received on Oswalt's history of back problems, picked up his $16 million club option in 2012.
That proved incorrect.
Oswalt, who is owed roughly $5 million this season and $16 million next season, only had his option restructured. Oswalt had a mutual option that would have paid him $2 million if the club declined its side of the option and $1 million if Oswalt declined his side of the option. The Phillies simply added an extra $1 million to the player side of the option.
"It's exciting for sure," Oswalt told MLB.com. "I think it works out for both of us. Houston's getting good prospects and another pitcher, and I'm getting to go to a great team. I'm happy for both sides. From the very beginning, I said I wouldn't accept it unless it worked out for both of us, and I think it worked out."
|"Houston's getting good prospects and another pitcher, and I'm getting to go to a great team. I'm happy for both sides."|
|-- Roy Oswalt|
It also did not take long in Amaro's nearly 20-minute news conference to answer one lingering question: Shouldn't the Phillies have just kept Lee in the first place?
The Phillies possibly would have lost Lee in free agency following the season, but they also would have kept Gose, Villar and Happ, a proven big league arm who could not become a free agent until after the 2014 season.
The Phils insisted in December they needed to restock their farm system when they traded Lee. But after acquiring three prospects for Lee -- none of whom have made a mark this year -- they sent three players to Houston for Oswalt, which many interpreted as the Phillies acknowledging they made a mistake.
"We can rehash this if you like," Amaro said. "We had negotiations with Cliff. We were not comfortable he would be on our club past 2010. We designed a trade that would not only replenish our farm system, but would give us an opportunity to keep a No. 1 pitcher in our system [Halladay] beyond 2010. We would not make the trade unless we signed Roy Halladay to an extension. We had a reasonable idea that Roy wanted to be with us not just this year, but beyond.
"This particular trade [Oswalt], we have the ability under our terms to keep this No. 1 starter in our system not just for 2010, but in 2011 under our terms -- and perhaps beyond that."
Lee is long gone, and any chances of him coming back after the season as a free agent decreased dramatically with Oswalt now in the fold. The same could be said for right fielder Jayson Werth, who also is a free agent after the season. But the Phillies have certainty in Oswalt. They know he will be here. They know next season they will have Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, Joe Blanton and possibly Kyle Kendrick in their rotation.
They like that.
"I like our chances with these three pitchers atop our rotation, certainly," Amaro said.
Happ, 27, is 1-0 with a 1.76 ERA in three starts this season, although he missed most of the season with a left elbow injury. He went 12-4 last season, when he finished second in the voting for the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Gose, 19, hit .263 with four homers, 20 RBIs and 36 stolen bases this season with Class A Clearwater. Villar, 19, hit .272 with two homers, 36 RBIs and 38 stolen bases with Class A Lakewood. Gose was then traded from Houston to Toronto later Thursday for first-base prospect Brett Wallace.
Happ was sad to leave. Teammates were sad to see him leave, too.
"This is all I've ever known," Happ said. "I had an idea pulling into the ballpark that this might be the last time. There were some emotions going on. When I got told, it was definitely emotional. But I've been fortunate. I've been to two World Series and won one. It was a great time to be part of the organization."
The Phillies hopes Oswalt's arrival ensures more good times are ahead.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.