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Phillies could get Oswalt, keep Werth
The talent exchange for the Astros’ right-hander is “pretty much agreed on” and not contingent on the Phillies making a separate trade involving right fielder Jayson Werth, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.
The Phillies know what the Astros want for Oswalt. The question is whether the Phils are willing to follow through on such a deal.
Phillies officials are divided on whether to part with left-hander J.A. Happ and prospects for Oswalt — and take on the approximately $5 million remaining in Oswalt’s salary this season, plus his $16 million salary for 2011 and possibly another $16 million in ’12.
Oswalt could require the Phillies to guarantee his club option for ’12 in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause. He does not want to go to Philadelphia, according to one source with knowledge of his thinking. But Oswalt told reporters earlier this week, “location doesn’t matter.”
The Cardinals have informed the Astros that they are no longer pursuing Oswalt, sources say. The Reds made a cursory call, but no names were exchanged. The Dodgers remain interested, but the discussions have failed to progress; the Astros initially asked the Dodgers for first baseman James Loney in addition to prospects, sources say.
For an Oswalt deal to occur, a trade agreement would need to be in place well before the non-waiver deadline at 4 p.m. ET. The teams would need to exchange medical information, gain Oswalt’s consent and compensate him in some form for waiving his no-trade clause.
The Phillies placed center fielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list Wednesday with an abdominal strain in his left side, making it more problematic for them to trade Werth for prospects that would either help replenish their own farm system or satisfy the Astros’ goals in a trade.
While the Phillies can land Oswalt without moving Werth, it might be difficult for them to pull off one without the other.
The Phillies are concerned about the state of their farm system after trading four young players for left-hander Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco last summer and three more for right-hander Roy Halladay last off-season, according to the source.
The Phils also are concerned about their present and future payrolls. Their $141.9 million payroll is the game’s fourth-largest, and acquiring Oswalt without trading Werth, a potential free agent, would push it even higher. As for next season, the Phillies already have $129.6 million committed to 14 players.
The Astros are willing to include cash in any deal, sources say, but the amount they are willing to offer is not believed to be significant.
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