Inbox: Should Phillies retire Halladay's No. 34?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers questions from fans

January 24th, 2019

The Phillies have typically reserved retiring numbers for those elected to the Hall of Fame. In light of Roy Halladay's recent election, even though he only spent four years in Philadelphia, what are the chances the Phillies will retire his No. 34?
-- Dennis K., Clifton Heights, Pa.

For those not familiar with the Phillies' number retirement policy, it is an unofficial one, so really they can do whatever they want.
But for reference's sake, the Phillies unofficially retired Robin Roberts' No. 36 in 1962, 14 years before he made the Hall of Fame. (They officially retired it in 2008.) They retired Richie Ashburn's No. 1 in 1979, 16 years before he reached Cooperstown, N.Y.; Steve Carlton's No. 32 in 1989, five years before he got to Cooperstown; Mike Schmidt's No. 20 in 1990, five years before he got there; and Jim Bunning's No. 14 in 2001, five years after he got there. Somewhere along the way, the Phils decided that only players in the Hall of Fame would have their numbers retired, shutting out players like Larry Bowa, Dick Allen and possibly Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard.
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But while Halladay is one of baseball's all-time greats, I do not think the Phillies should retire No. 34. Yes, he spent four seasons with the Phillies, but if his number is retired, is Jim Thome's No. 25 retired? I think there should be some longevity with an organization before it retires a number. (The Phillies' Wall of Fame is another matter.) Isn't Rollins more deserving than Halladay or Thome, even though there is a chance Rollins will never hit the 75-percent threshold needed to make the Hall of Fame?
The bigger question: Should the Phillies change their unofficial policy? It's worth a serious conversation or two.
Think about this for a second: players like Rollins and Utley are borderline Hall of Famers, based on recent voting for players like Fred McGriff, Scott Rolen, etc. If they do not make the Hall of Fame, the next player to go to Cooperstown with a Phillies cap on his plaque could be … or Manny Machado. Seriously. Theoretically, if one of them signs a 10-year deal with the Phils and continues to play at a Hall of Fame level, winning a World Series and a National League Most Valuable Player Award or two in the process, they could be the next Phillies player in Cooperstown. But in this scenario, there could be at least 25 years between the club officially retiring Roberts' number in 2008 and the next Phils great having his number retired.
As a side note, Harper wears No. 34. Just saying.
Do you honestly think the Phillies have a chance of signing Manny or Bryce? I don't.
-- Jim G., Collegeville, Pa.

Yes, I do. No team is better positioned to sign Machado or Harper than the Phillies. I just cannot see a scenario in which two teams outbid Philadelphia for both players. The only potential scenario I see is Machado signing with the White Sox or a mystery team, then Harper taking a lesser deal to re-sign with the Nationals. But if both players are looking for record contracts, the Phils can make it happen.
It appears that the Rockies are uncertain about extending 's contract, so why not put together a package of players -- perhaps , a Major League starting pitcher and for him -- conditioned on Arenado signing a contract extension?
-- John S., Haddon Township, N.J.

Any time somebody proposes a trade, I always like to say, "If you were the GM on the other team, would you make this trade?" In this case, would you trade Arenado, who is one of the best players in baseball, for Hernandez, Franco and a pitcher like , Zach Eflin or Vince Velasquez? If I'm the Rockies, I decline. But say the Rockies decide at some point they want to trade Arenado and the Phillies put together an incredible package. The Phils still then have to sign Arenado to an extension in a short period of time.
It's easier said than done.