Monday, May 24, 2010

Trade Talk: Who will want Roy Oswalt?

Most of you probably know by now that Roy Oswalt has requested to be traded. He seems to be fairly frustrated with the management of the Astros, in that he asked them what their plans were for the future, and Oswalt claims that they didn't really have an answer that he liked.

When you look at Oswalt's numbers for the year, you can understand his frustration. Oswalt has only managed a 2-6 record this year in 9 starts. If you just look at that, Oswalt appears to not be a very good pitcher, but when you look at his other sparkling numbers - like his 2.66 ERA and a 8.9 K/9, it becomes clear that he has gotten next to no run support from an underperforming Houston Astros line-up. It's understandable that he is frustrated by that.

The real question though, is who the potential trade candidates are for Oswalt. Oswalt has stated that he wants to be traded to a contender, and will only waive his no-trade clause if the team that the Astros are in talks with is a team he views as a contender. So far, the only team to officially announce interest in Oswalt is the Washington Nationals, who are sitting one game above .500 and are 4 games back in a closesly contested NL East. It's hard to see Oswalt considering them a contender, especially because many people (including myself) have a hard time seeing the Nationals even finishing the season above .500, Strasburg or not.

As the trade deadline gets closer, it's likely other teams will express interest in Oswalt, because he is pitching so well this season and is a genuine ace in many rotation. However, there is one other obstacle to Oswalt being traded, and that is the amount of guaranteed money left on the contract of a 32-year-old who got injured in 2008 and 2009. Whoever trades for Oswalt will be forced to pay him a prorated amount of the $15 million he is owed this season (depending on when they trade for him), and are also on the hook for $16 million in 2011. They will also be forced to either pick up a $16 million option for 2012 or pay Oswalt a $2 million dollar buy-out. That means whoever trades for Oswalt (assuming the Astros don't eat a portion of the contract), will have to have a lot of payroll flexibility next year to accomodate the $15 million Oswalt will have to be paid. This means that only some very large market teams, or teams who seem to be wanting to expand payroll (like the Nationals) seem like tradely candidates. Obviously, teams will also need to have a pitching need. The fact that there needs to be payroll flexibility seems to rule out teams like the Phillies, who clearly need pitching, but seem to be stretched to their payroll limit.

I could see a team like the Red Sox pursuing Oswalt if the injury to Josh Beckett proves to be more major than is currently thought. The Red Sox certainly have some more payroll flexibility, and will have plenty of money coming off of the books next year between the impending free agencies of Mike Lowell and David Ortiz. However, I can only see this happening in the event that the Red Sox continue to climb up the AL East ladder, and only if Beckett is out for the rest of the season. The rotation the Red Sox would put up for next year would also be completely devastating, assuming everyone pitches to their ability. It would be something like Lester-Beckett-Oswalt-Lackey-Buccholz, and that's not even accounting for a resurgent Dice-K.

It should also be noted that the return that the Astros receive will probably be effected by how much money the Astros decide to take on of what remains on Oswalt's contract. If they trade him as is and expect the team to pick up that colossal amount of money, they'll probably only get one top-shelf prospect.

Who do you think Oswalt will get traded to?


Furious Gunman said...

I don't think he will go to the Nationals, but if he did I could very well see the Nationals becoming a contender. They aren't that far back in a very close division. And their hitting is average, which is much much better than the Astros, who are the worst team in the MLB at scoring runs, and BA, by far. Also their bullpen has been stellar all year with the likes of Capps and Clippard. Their only real weakness is in their Starting pitching, with only 1 good pitcher, Hernandez with 1.62 ERA, and all the other guys have above 5 ERA's. With the addition of Strasburg, who I believe will perform as an elite pitcher, and Oswalt, I believe this team might just have what it takes.

Now in reality, I don't see in other teams too interested yet, but it's early on and injuries can happen. The only real "contender" that has atrocious pitching and fantastic hitting is the Rockies, but the money might be a problem.

I don't see him going to the Red Sox as long as Wakefield is performing well, but honestly as a Red Sox fan, I would love to see Dice-K traded and another prospect, for Oswalt.

Jacob said...

Livan Hernandez keeping up pitching the way he is is just really unlikely, as great as it's started. As you indicated, the rest of the pitchers are not exactly tearing it up, and something has to give at some point. It would be nice to see them as a dark horse, though.

I don't see the Red sox taking that trade for Oswalt, because it won't really be freeing up any money for the Astros with how much Dice-K has left on his contract.

Furious Gunman said...

Yeah I don't see the Dice-K trade either, but one can hope(I really do not like Dice-K).

Right now I see it as 1 of 4 teams.

Tigers: Their pitching is fairly poor, with excellent hitting. Also they are only 1 GB in their division, qualifying them as a contender.

Nationals: Again poor pitching, average hitting, and 3.5 GB. Also willing to spend money.

Braves: Unlikely with the braves spending habits, but if they had a guy like Oswalt they could take the top spot in the NL East.

Rockies: Would make one of if not the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball. The hitting in this division is atrocious besides Arizona(who has a strike out tendency) so that could really help his stats, and he'd be going to a competitor.

Jacob said...

I think the Tigers are a very likely team to land Oswalt. They (theoretically) have some payroll space because of the fact that they trimmed so much this offseason, and they could certainly use the pitching and good enough to be a contender.