The Cardinals have the flexibility to add a front-line player such as Roy Oswalt, Cardinals president Bill DeWitt told Sporting News.
"I’m not getting into specifics, but I’ve said all along that we have flexibility," DeWitt said.
But he added, "just on that (Oswalt) subject, that’s highly speculative. There’s nothing imminent there at all. I’m not saying we wouldn’t. I don’t know how that word is floating around."
Taking on the remainder of Oswalt’s salary would require considerable flexibility. He is owed what is left of his $15 million salary this season plus $16 million in 2011. And he has a $16 million option for 2012 that he reportedly wants picked up if he accepts a trade. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, however, Oswalt has indicated he might defer the option if traded to the Cardinals.
The Cardinals already are on the hook for several hefty salaries in 2012, including Matt Holliday at $17 million and Kyle Lohse at $11.875 million. They hold a $15 million option on Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright at $9 million (plus more with possible incentives).
Then, of course, there’s Albert Pujols. He will be a free agent after 2011 and figures to command close to $30 million a season.
If the Cardinals were to keep all four of those starting pitchers plus Holliday and Pujols in 2012, they would be paying more than $95 million for six players. The club has said it wants to maintain a payroll of $100 million.
Another consideration is whom the Cardinals would send the Astros. Houston is looking for a first baseman and starting pitcher who can play in the majors. The Cardinals lack proven first basemen behind Pujols, but they do have a top young pitcher in Jaime Garcia. Including him in an Oswalt deal, however, would not make sense because Garcia is 9-4 with a 2.21 ERA and remains under club control for five more years.
Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.