Roy Oswalt: Once and Future Phillie?
(Photo: Howard Smith/US Presswire)
(Photo: Howard Smith/US Presswire)
Managing Editor
Posted Feb 7, 2012


Roy Oswalt and Ryan Madson have had similar experiences with free agency this winter. There was talk of Madson returning to Philadelphia before he signed with Cincinnati and now come whispers of a possible reunion with Roy Oswalt.

Roy Oswalt figured that the Phillies wouldn't pick up the $16 million option on his contract for 2012. After all, he missed a chunk of the season with a bad back and giving that kind of money to a veteran pitcher with a balky spine just isn't a good move to make in the business of baseball. In fact, Oswalt figured that he wouldn't be seeing that kind of money on the free agent front and that he might not get a contract with an extremely long shelf-life, but he hoped he could garner something close to $20 or $22 million over two years.

Not happening.

Eventually, Oswalt figured out, as did Ryan Madson, that a one-year deal was going to be the best he could hope for. But by the time he reached that conclusion, a lot of the teams had already either filled their rotation or ran out of money for a major signing. So, Oswalt's numbers dropped from a $12 million one-year deal to where he's hoping for $8 million on a one-year deal now. The St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers seemed to be Oswalt's best bets for a deal, but the going isn't easy for him to strike a deal with any of those teams and considering that pitchers and catchers report for duty in just about one week, there isn't much out there for Oswalt.

The Nationals wound up signing Edwin Jackson to a one-year deal - worth $10 million - which ended their interest in Oswalt. Boston never was too interested and they're described as just having done due diligence in talking to Oswalt. Texas and Oswalt didn't see eye-to-eye on what role Oswalt would play and how much money he wanted. The Rangers weren't excited about moving Matt Harrison out of the rotation to make room for Oswalt and Oswalt wasn't excited about starting the year in the bullpen, so things didn't go too far. Turns out the Cardinals just don't have the money to sign Oswalt, so that took them out of the process, unless Oswalt's price drops dramatically. As for Cincinnati, general manager Walt Jocketty is "sick and tired" of the rumors that the Reds are going to sign Oswalt and said that the two sides haven't even had serious talks about a potential deal. The lowly Pittsburgh Pirates wanted to jump in on Oswalt, but were basically told to forget it, because Oswalt simply wasn't going to sign with them.

So, Oswalt either needs to drop his asking price and possibly hope to recoup some of that money in incentives or go back to his tractor in Mississippi and call it a career.

This could be where the Phillies would enter the fray. There's no denying that Oswalt enjoyed his time, or at least most of it, in Philadelphia and even though the Phillies have a strong rotation without Oswalt, they could be willing to make room for him if the price is right. The problem isn't just the price though; The Phillies and Oswalt have a bit of ill feelings toward one another thanks to Oswalt's work on his tractor while he was on the DL nursing a sore back. The bad feelings never reached boiling point and things could be patched up, but the Phillies are just not going to get anywhere near the amount of money that Oswalt would want for one more year of service and it can't even be said that they would guarantee him a spot in the rotation.

After all, the Phillies already have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels guaranteed spots in the rotation, with Vance Worley just about guaranteed a spot and Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick battling for a spot; None of that leaves much room for another starter. The only way Oswalt would be any sort of fit would be on a heavily incentive-laden deal and he hasn't hit that level of acceptance - yet.

The latest suitor could be the Detroit Tigers, but they're not going out with a blank check for Oswalt either and right now, nothing is imminent. It could be that Oswalt may be either forced into retirement or accepting a contract and/or role with a club that he doesn't feel is up to his level of ability and an unhappy Roy Oswalt isn't necessarily better than no Roy Oswalt at all. With that plus the sketchy feelings between Oswalt and the Phillies, don't look for a reunion even if the demands were to drop significantly.



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