Oswalt Still in Houston; Werth Still a Philly

(Photo: H. Rumph Jr./AP)

One reason why the odds on Roy Oswalt becoming a Phillie change so often is because Roy Oswalt's comments keep changing. Meanwhile, the odds of Jayson Werth being dealt are dwindling.

It's been said that changing her mind is a woman's prerogative. Apparently, it's a top starting pitcher's prerogative, too. Roy Oswalt has flip-flopped more than a political candidate looking to straddle that line between republican and democrat and it's affecting the pitcher's trade situation. Remember, that back in May, it was Oswalt who went to the Astros and requested that he be dealt to a contending team. The Astros appear ready to do just that, but aren't sure exactly where they can send Oswalt that will both appease Oswalt enough to get him to waive his no-trade clause and get the Astros enough of a return that they can feel comfortable in having made the deal.

Oswalt's positions go something like this: Initially, he wanted to be traded to a contender. The fact of being dealt to a contender has remained strong, but his demands have wavered. Last week, the Phillies were closing in on a deal to get Oswalt, until he basically threw a high-and-tight heater to the Phillies and said that he would go to Philly, if, they were going to guarantee the 2012 portion of his contract at $16 million. Naturally, the Phillies blinked and the deal was off, giving a reprieve to Kyle Kendrick, who did a u-turn on his way to Lehigh Valley and made a fine start for the Phillies Saturday against Colorado. Then, Oswalt commented that if he were to be dealt to St. Louis, he wouldn't require his option year to be picked up. The Astros weren't enthused at that revelation, because it would mean dealing Oswalt within the division and of course, it seriously limited their bargaining position with clubs. From there, Oswalt said that he would consider going to Philly - or any other contending team - and not having his option year guaranteed, which put the Phillies and Astros back into negotiations. Now, Oswalt is again saying that he needs the 2012 season guaranteed for him to go anywhere but St. Louis or Atlanta.

As of now, the Dodgers and Cardinals are both interested in Oswalt, along with the Phillies. The Phillies match-up with the Astros much better than either the Dodgers or Cardinals, both of whom don't appear to have the goods needed to satisfy Houston's high demands for Oswalt. Plus, there's the aforementioned fear of dealing Oswalt within the division. The Braves may be of interest to Oswalt, but Atlanta doesn't really have a need for a Roy Oswalt in their rotation and wouldn't add the extra payroll to add a piece that they don't really need, preferring to spend their payroll elsewhere.

That leaves the Phillies as the last standing likely spot for Oswalt, but odds aren't great that they would want to commit to paying out $16 million in salary in 2012 rather than just picking up the $2 million buyout that Oswalt has for that season, if things don't progress the way they would like. Perhaps, there would be a middle ground; what if the Phillies were to offer a package of incentives to Oswalt in the 2011 season that would cause that option year to vest if he were to hit them. Say if he were to make a certain number of starts, pitch a certain number of innings and/or meet other numbers, the Phillies would have to guarantee that option year. Another option would be for the Phillies and Oswalt to agree on a deferment of some of his 2012 salary or some other creative financing along the way, that would help to hold down the costs and not add to the already high payroll commitments that the Phillies have in 2011 and 2012.

Then, there's the strange case of Jayson Werth. The Phillies are still open to dealing the beleaguered outfielder, but with the resurgence in both Werth's offense and the team's offense, maybe the Phillies will now be content to hang onto Werth for the rest of the season, even though he's not the most popular player among fans or a great clubhouse presence for the team. Just yesterday, there were actually mid-game reports that the Phillies had traded Werth - who wasn't in the starting lineup - to San Diego. Those reports, of course, turned out to be false and Werth is still a Phillie.

The bottom line right now, is that Werth is still a Phillie and Oswalt is still an Astro. Whether or not it stays that way is anybody's guess, but with about 96 hours to go until the deadline, it's looking like that might remain the status quo, at least for the rest of the season.


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