WASHINGTON -- Jimmy Rollins appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday and gave a candid response when asked why the Phillies needed to trade Cliff Lee to Seattle in December after acquiring Roy Halladay from Toronto.
"That, I have no idea," Rollins told Patrick. "I'm sure we could afford him. We turned nearly four million people through the turnstiles last year. I don't know. You should have [Phillies general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] on here.
"When the trade happened, I actually got a text from Jayson Werth and he was like, 'What are we doing?' And I was like, 'Didn't we get Halladay?' And he was like, 'Yeah, but we traded Lee.' And my mouth dropped like, 'That wasn't part of the deal.' I really don't know. I thought we had enough to keep him. I thought we could have done enough to keep him. I guess that's just a move the Yankees do. ... That's just the truth. The Yankees would have been like, 'Hey, we got a chance to keep both of them. We'll pay them both for a year or two and we got a chance to win a championship.'"
Amaro declined comment Thursday.
He has said in the past the Phillies traded Lee because they needed to restock their farm system after trades in recent seasons sapped them of their top Minor League talent. The Phils received prospects Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez in return for Lee, who will be a free agent after the season.
Amaro also has said it was Halladay or Lee, never both. Lee had given the Phillies indications he would be difficult to sign to an extension. Halladay agreed to a three-year, $60 million extension as part of the deal.
"This gives us a chance to maybe stretch out the run," Amaro told MLB.com in January. "The point is not just to win this year. It's to be a perennial winner. We want to try to win the World Series every year. I'd rather be a World Series contender for the next four years than to throw all the eggs in one basket for one year. That's what it gets down to."
Of course, salary also came into play. Lee makes $9 million this season, and the Phillies needed to offset Halladay's salary, which is $15.75 million, minus $6 million the Blue Jays sent the Phillies in the deal.
Philadelphia has an Opening Day payroll of more than $140 million, which is the fourth-highest payroll in baseball, according to USA Today.
"I feel that we have enough talent on our club [without having both Halladay and Lee]," Amaro said. "We were last in starting pitching for four months last year and we went to the World Series. Right or wrong, we have enough talent to carry us if we have a glitch here and there. I'd rather make the run for the long haul than for just one year."