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Closing in on the trade deadline

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As we approach Major League Baseball's trade deadline, we are no closer to figuring out where Toronto ace Roy Halladay is going to land, if at all.

From everything I can gather, Philadelphia, the team that could have used him the most, is out of the mix. The Phillies have reportedly set their sights on adding reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.

The internet was abuzz early on Wednesday morning when it was learned that one of the Phillies' top pitching prospects, Carlos Carrasco, was scratched from his Triple-A start in the Lehigh Valley. Also, Phils' minor league chips shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson were also absent from the lineup for Lehigh Valley.

So obviously Lee must be on his way to the Phillies, right?

Well, not so fast. Marson caught the night before and was not going to play a game the next day at 11:00 a.m., while Donald recently returned from the disabled list and was scheduled to have the day off.

Carrasco, though, was a legitimate scratch and the Phils offered up no justification. So, something is probably brewing there. But is it Lee? Who knows? Baltimore has also been scouting Carrasco extensively and could be ready to pull the trigger on a George Sherrill trade.

Fans in Philadelphia might jump from the top of Citizens Bank Park if, after dreaming about Halladay and to a lesser extent Lee, they wind up landing only Sherrill, with Pedro Martinez offered up as the answer in the rotation.

I don't expect that to happen, though. I think the Phils will wind up with Lee in the end.

As far as Halladay, I believe he'll stay in the AL East. He'll either stay put, or Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi will do the once-unthinkable and deal him to either the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees.

Boston remains focused on adding a bat and is in talks with the Indians concerning Victor Martinez, but starting pitching is becoming a concern for the Red Sox given the way John Smoltz has looked since returning.

New York desperately needs another starter, especially with the news it received on Tuesday that Chien-Ming Wang would be lost for the season. Like I have said before, Brian Cashman did not want to deal Phil Hughes for Johan Santana two years ago, and I don't see him giving up his blue-chip prospects now for a 32-year-old pitcher.

I expect the Yanks to nab lefty Jarrod Washburn from Seattle.

The way I see it, now that Philadelphia may no longer be in the mix, Ricciardi has one option and unfortunately for him, it is the Red Sox. If Boston indeed wants to make a play for Halladay they can put together a package that would trump anything anyone can give, including a Kyle Drabek-centered Phillies deal.

The rest of the league should watch out if that happens. Halladay, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester would be a tough haul for anyone in the playoffs.

I guess with Lee possibly heading to Philly, the Dodgers could get back in on Halladay, but unless they are willing to part with lefty Clayton Kershaw, they are at best fringe players in this whole saga.

I am not expecting a flurry of activity in the coming days. We will have a few minor moves here and there, like the one that just went down between Seattle and Pittsburgh that sent Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to Mariners in exchange for shortstop Ronny Cedeno, minor league catcher/first Baseman Jeff Clement and minor league righties Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic.

My best guess, though, is that Halladay stays in Toronto for the time being, and we start all this talk up again in December.

You can follow me on twitter at @tsnbaseball.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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