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Roy Halladay return to the mound a little bit sooner than expected for the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. What does the future hold for the two-time Cy Young recipient, who becomes a free agent at the conclusion of this season?

Prior to his start on Sunday, which was orchestrated due to the Phillies’ 18-inning marathon on Saturday, Halladay’s last pitch was back on May 5. After dealing with declining velocity during spring training and re-occurring arm and shoulder issues, the veteran right-hander underwent surgery to address the issue.

In his first outing in three-and-a-half months, Halladay was so-so, limiting the Diamondbacks to just four hits and two runs and a win after pitching six innings.

Halladay’s performance didn’t come without flaws. He struggled to consistently throw in the 90’s with his fastball and would have given up more runs if it wasn’t for a fantastic home run-stealing catch by Roger Bernadina. But his performance does offer a ray of hope, as Halladay explained to Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News.

“I think we’re starting to get that feeling again that we’re never out of it,” explained Halladay. “The feeling I sensed in the middle of the year was that if we were down in a game we were going to have a hard time coming back. But the last week or so you’re starting to get that sense back that we can overcome anything. So hopefully that’s something we can continue to do and it carries over. That’s the attitude you have to have in baseball. And it definitely has been a lot better than at certain points in the middle of the season.”

The looming question is where Halladay will take that “hope” next season. And at what price does it come with?

The Phils own a $20 million option on the 36-year old veteran, but it won’t hold due to Halladay falling short of the innings requirement. And the Phillies would be remarkably foolish to invest that much money into yet another aging former superstar who has is becoming more and more injury prone.

Still, it isn’t completely out of the question that Halladay sticks with Philadelphia, especially if he is looking to prove he’s back to his former self. Or at the very least close to being back. But in order for that to happen he will have to be willing to accept a far more team-friendly contract. Perhaps one that is packed with incentives and allows the Phillies a team option for a second year.

For Halladay, it would be tough to say that idea wouldn’t in his best interest if that becomes a possibility. His market value isn’t where it once was and will be marginal at best due to the combination of age and recent health risk’s.