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Yankees will inquire about Blue Jays ace Halladay

CHICAGO -- The world champion Yankees will inquire about superstar pitcher Roy Halladay, setting up a potential bidding competition that didn't exist last summer when now-deposed Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi made it clear he wanted to avoid trading Halladay within the division.

New Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said on Tuesday that he would generally be willing to consider trades within the American League East, with the only caveat being that he'd be more inclined to accept a trade outside the division if it was exactly equal. So Anthopoulos -- who called Halladay "the greatest Blue Jay player or pitcher" -- appears much more likely to be open to a deal to the Red Sox or Yankees. His main message was that the Jays need to get better, and that he is willing to do whatever it takes to meet that goal.

The Yankees will also take a look at top free-agent pitcher John Lackey, but could become a major threat for Halladay, particularly if the pitcher insists on an extension only a few teams could afford. Halladay is eligible for free agency after the 2010 season, but he didn't insist on an extension last summer when he was being shopped around baseball.

The Mets are also expected to look into Halladay, but they are seen as a long shot not only because of their thin farm system but because they may not want to devote such a high percentage of their payroll to two pitchers (having already spent a fortune on Johan Santana). The Yankees and Red Sox have the prospects to do a deal for Halladay, particularly with the price tag expected to be at least slightly lower now that Halladay is only a year away from free agency. The Phillies have been seen as a team that may again make a play for Halladay, but at the moment they seem to be concentrating on third base and bullpen help and may not ultimately be a player here.

Halladay would be expected to seek a contract in the range of those given to Santana ($137.5 million) and CC Sabathia ($161 million). He has a no-trade clause but is thought to favor a deal to East Coast teams and teams that train in Florida. He was believed willing to go to Boston or the Yankees last summer when he was being shopped around.

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