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?