Drabek made the call, but his agent had not yet heard from any of the teams mentioned in the reports. The next morning, he did hear from the Phillies, who confirmed to their former top prospect that he was part of a complicated series of deals.
Lee went to Seattle for prospects, Halladay was traded to Philadelphia, and Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud left the Phils' system for Toronto. The Blue Jays immediately flipped Taylor to Oakland for infielder Brett Wallace.
Though Halladay and Lee claimed most of the buzz from that set of trades, the Phils' decision to sacrifice Drabek was significant for an organization excited about his talent. During the first set of negotiations with Toronto in July, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was highly reluctant to part with the 22-year-old righthander. Manager Charlie Manuel once compared Drabek to Tom Seaver and said he hoped his team would not move its top prospect.
But when talks resumed in November, new Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos held firm on his position that Drabek be a necessary component of any deal. All of those machinations were unknown to the pitcher, who spent the off-season long-tossing and lifting weights.
Then, very abruptly, he became a Toronto Blue Jay.
"Initially, I think he was shellshocked, and he didn't know what to expect," said Phillies pitcher Mike Zagurski, Drabek's best friend in the organization. "Now he's getting to meet some of the guys and kind of realizing that they are no different than what we have here."
The two were roommates in 2008, when both were recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, and Drabek has long credited Zagurski, 27, with helping him mature. In 2005, Drabek was arrested for public intoxication, and while the charges were later dropped, he found it difficult to shed his reputation as a troublemaker.
"I'm not going to take credit for turning his life around, but I think maybe at times I kept him in the right direction," said Zagurski. "But anyone who knows Kyle knows that he's like everybody else. There are times when he likes to have a good time, but that stuff is certainly not as severe as what you hear."
In addition to the support from Zagurski, Drabek has benefited from regular chats with his father, former major-league pitcher Doug Drabek.
"He said, 'You know what? It's baseball,' " the younger Drabek said. ' "This stuff happens, and you just deal with it and try to do your job.' "
Heeding that advice, Kyle Drabek continued to work on a change-up to supplement his highly regarded fastball and curveball. He will likely spend more time in triple A this year to develop that pitch. "That was one thing last year that definitely still needed a lot of work," he said.
Now he will do his work in a different place, surrounded by different people in a different league and country. It was a reality that did not fully strike Drabek until he first donned the Toronto uniform.
Even yesterday, trying to describe the feeling of playing for a new team, Drabek searched for words.
"Yeah, it's not the same locker room or the same teammates or the same colors," he said slowly, his eyes searching the floor. "When I first put on Blue Jays stuff is when I noticed."
Then he stopped, cocked his chin upward and smirked. His voice was firmer now.
"I kind of like blue," he said.
Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or email@example.com.