Jays GM: Next week key for trade talk

Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi expects the Roy Halladay trade talks will come to a head early next week, he said on Wednesday.

Ricciardi said the Blue Jays "haven't even really exchanged names" yet with teams pursuing Halladay because they're still scouting the minor league systems of the clubs involved.

"But we're getting really close to sitting down and telling teams, 'This is what it's going to take,'" Ricciardi said. "I'd say going into Monday, we'll pretty much have our cards on the table."

That wouldn't leave those teams much time to complete a deal before the Jays' unofficial deadline of Tuesday, July 28. But Ricciardi quipped: "We'll see how fast people want to move."

Ricciardi did say, however, that he doesn't consider next Tuesday to be a firm deadline.

"Look, if we're on the precipice of getting something done and we have to go into the 29th, we're not going to draw a line in the sand," the GM said. "But if we're still at this stage on the 28th, then we're not going to trade Roy Halladay."

Asked how he could know what that stage was if his team hadn't exchanged names yet with other clubs, Ricciardi replied: "No one has thrown players at us. They're waiting for us to throw players at them."

Sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that talks should begin in earnest sometime in the next 72 hours. The team is wrapping up its evaluation of the prospects with other teams.

Ricciardi said he considers four teams to be "really, really serious" bidders on Halladay, with "a couple" of others "on the periphery." It's believed that the Philadelphia Phillies continue to top that list, with the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox still involved at various levels, and the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox continuing to check in.

The Phillies have told Toronto they prefer not to include their top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek, in a Halladay deal, but sources told Olney that the Phillies have not deemed Drabek untouchable.

The Jays scouted Drabek's start Wednesday night in Altoona, Pa., when he allowed two runs in eight innings in start for Class AA Reading.

The Phillies have scouted Halladay recently and have had on-going internal conversations about the value of adding the veteran and strengthening their 2009 team, according to Olney. At least one executive among the highest-ranking club officials believes that the Phillies shouldn't feel compelled to trade off their best young minor leaguers, because the team, as currently comprised, is good enough to wrap up the NL East and compete for a second straight championship.

There has been speculation from other teams that the Blue Jays would try to trade Halladay before he makes his next start, on Friday against Tampa Bay. But Ricciardi said he doesn't expect any deal to be completed before that start.

However, he wants this matter resolved, one way or the other, before Halladay's final scheduled start before the trade deadline, which would be Wednesday, July 29 in Seattle. And based on where trade talks now stand, Ricciardi said he expects Halladay to make that start for the Blue Jays.

"That's just my gut," the GM said. "My gut is telling me this [deal] won't happen."

Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney is included in this report.