Could the same team trade for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pictured) and Roy Oswalt in the same 12-month span? It’s not likely. It’s not impossible, either. The Phillies are financially healthy and always want to win — factors that go a long way toward determining July aggressiveness. The need for an arm is there, with three key pitchers currently on the disabled list. If Oswalt wants to pitch for a perennial NL winner without moving to the West Coast — and if the Astros insist on moving him out of the division — then Philly would seem to be a nice compromise. But the Phillies have indicated they don’t have enough payroll flexibility to make major moves this July.
Roy Oswalt's possible destinations
Roy Oswalt’s agent requested a trade. The Astros acknowledged it. But the press release isn’t ready yet. It may never be. We don’t know if owner Drayton McLane is really ready to surrender one of his favorite players. We don’t know how many teams can afford a prorated $15 million this year, $16 million next year. And yet there is this undeniable fact: Oswalt could help 29 other rotations. With that in mind, here are 10 potential destinations, in no particular order. — Jon Paul Morosi
Brad Penny (strained lat muscle) is on the disabled list. Kyle Lohse (forearm inflammation) will probably miss a start. Jaime Garcia, while sensational, is a rookie. Sounds like the Cardinals could use another veteran starter. Oswalt knows he would be appreciated in baseball-crazed St. Louis, which is (relatively) close to his Mississippi home. But there are real questions about whether the Cardinals have the prospects to pull it off, after the Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday deals. Money might be tight, too, since the Cardinals have committed mega-dollars to Holliday and hope to do the same for Albert Pujols after next year. And then there is this: The Astros will probably try to avoid an intra-division trade.
It seems that everyone is talking about Dusty Baker’s team. The Reds entered Tuesday in a tie with St. Louis atop the National League Central. They have a nice blend of youth and experience. Joey Votto is playing like an All-Star. But now Homer Bailey (pictured) has joined the suspended Edinson Volquez on the disabled list with a shoulder inflammation. One source said the Reds will be more motivated to pursue Oswalt if they are ahead of attendance projections in July. Still, would the Astros deal such an important player within the division?
In order to gauge how much Oswalt could help the Twins, keep an eye on Francisco Liriano (pictured). After five starts this season, the left-hander was 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Then he lost three straight, all to AL East opponents. Not a good sign, for a team that has struggled to advance in the playoffs. By contrast, a top three of Oswalt, Liriano and Carl Pavano would give Minnesota a good chance of winning in October — and, of course, a better chance of getting there at all.
The Dodgers weren’t able to land Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee last year … and that was before the McCourt divorce filing. Due to the ongoing court drama, there is a strong chance that this July will be similarly unfulfilling. L.A. has the need for Oswalt but probably not the money. “However,” one agent pointed out, “if they continue to play well and are near the top of the division at the deadline, they may have to do it or risk losing fans.” Perhaps Drayton McLane will be intrigued by the possibility of acquiring native Texan pitching prospects Chris Withrow and Aaron Miller.
The symbolism is there: Nolan Ryan furthered his legend when he went from the Astros to the Rangers. Now, as the club president and owner-in-waiting, Ryan’s lever-pulling could bring Oswalt up I-45, as well. The Rangers absolutely have the prospects to do it. But they won’t have a chance unless the team’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings — and sale to Ryan’s group — conclude prior to the July 31 trade deadline. Texas is on the clock. And in case you forgot: The franchise’s last postseason appearance came in 1999.
Mike Scioscia’s team has been one of the most perplexing outfits in baseball this year. The Angels were five games under .500 entering Tuesday, due in large part to an inconsistent pitching staff. With John Lackey gone and Scott Kazmir struggling, the rotation is a sore spot. (The investment in free agent Joel Pineiro hasn’t yielded big dividends, either.) As long as Oswalt is OK with a West Coast address and league change, the Angels look like a great fit. We already know that owner Arte Moreno isn’t the type to concede a season.
The Detroit bullpen has been terrific — and overworked. Manager Jim Leyland has said on multiple occasions that he needs more innings from the rotation. Dontrelle Willis (pictured) hasn’t recorded an out in the seventh inning of a major-league game since May 24, 2009. Well, how about the addition of someone with six 200-inning seasons? A rotation of Oswalt, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Jeremy Bonderman would transform the Tigers into a legitimate pennant threat. But if the Tigers prefer a left-hander, which is very possible, they should wait and hope that Seattle’s Cliff Lee hits the market.
When have you known the Yankees to sit tight when big names are available? Expect them to inquire on Oswalt, if only because they can. And they would have their reasons: Andy Pettitte (pictured) is about to turn 38 and has already missed a start this year; Javier Vazquez isn’t exactly a Yankees stalwart. If any member of the rotation falters in July, Brian Cashman should make a strong play for Oswalt. Remember: Pettitte and Vazquez will be free agents after this season, so there is appeal in Oswalt being under contract for '11.
The Nationals will be the team on everyone’s lips in the coming weeks, as Stephen Strasburg nears his debut. But they also possess a winning record and expect to contend — satisfying key criteria for Oswalt as he considers the destinations for which he would waive his no-trade clause. The 2011 rotation would have considerable promise, with Oswalt, Strasburg (pictured) and a combination of John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang and Jason Marquis. Washington might not be Oswalt’s No. 1 choice, but, at long last, it deserves to be on the list.