Courting Oswalt: Possible destinations for Houston’s ace

Roy Oswalt has pitched well this season but received little run support.
Roy Oswalt has pitched well this season but received little run support.

Although Astros ace Roy Oswalt has requested a trade, getting a deal done won’t be easy. The righthander has veto power and just under $30 million remaining on his contract (excluding the $16 million team option for 2012). The perfect match: an out-of-division contender that can afford the commitment and satisfy Houston’s desire for young talent in return.

Three possible fits:

Dodgers

Why Oswalt makes sense: The rotation has been much improved of late but still lacks a veteran No. 1 starter. Oswalt would take a ton of pressure off Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley and eliminate the need to depend heavily on Vicente Padilla. Pitching in spacious Dodger Stadium would appeal to Oswalt.

Stumbling block: The pending divorce of the team’s owners has tied up the purse strings — part of the reason Los Angeles didn’t acquire an ace this past offseason.

Rangers

Why Oswalt makes sense: The workhorse is exactly what Rangers president Nolan Ryan craves. The move from one Texas team to another would be a smooth one, and though Rangers Ballpark in Arlington isn’t pitcher-friendly, neither is Minute Maid Park. In any case, run support no longer would be a concern.

Stumbling block: The team’s pending sale — to a group that includes Ryan — has tied up the finances. Assuming that is cleared up, Texas should have some money to spend.

Mets

Why Oswalt makes sense: With John Maine and Jon Niese on the disabled list and Oliver Perez banished to the bullpen, New York is in desperate need of starters. And Oswalt would be an outstanding complement to lefthander Johan Santana. Like the Dodgers, the Mets neglected to add the top-of-the-rotation arm they needed during the offseason.

Stumbling block: The last-place Mets aren’t exactly contenders, which could scare away Oswalt. But they aren’t completely buried, either, and Carlos Beltran — a former teammate of Oswalt in Houston — should be back eventually.

The dark horses

Nationals

Why Oswalt makes sense: He’d be the perfect mentor for Stephen Strasburg and bring immediate legitimacy to a rotation that still is a weakness.

Stumbling block: Washington, though an up-and-coming franchise, isn’t a bona fide contender yet and plays in a loaded division. Thus, Oswalt could exercise his no-trade clause to block the deal.

Reds

Why Oswalt makes sense: Cincinnati has earned contender status more quickly than most expected, and the contracts of Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang will come off the books after this season (freeing up money). A rotation of Oswalt, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman would be impressive.

Stumbling block: The Astros are far from eager to have Oswalt haunt them in head-to-head meetings in the future.

The others

As mentioned, Oswalt probably won’t be interested in leaving one non-contender for another. So, you can cross plenty of teams (Orioles, Pirates, Mariners, etc.) off the list of would-be suitors. And even plenty of this season’s contenders probably will shy away from the chance to acquire Oswalt. Here’s why:

AL East

Rays: Their rotation already is stellar, they plan to slash payroll after this season, and they have to try to re-sign Carl Crawford or Carlos Pena.
Yankees: Never count them out, but the Yankees have little need and have shown financial restraint lately.
Blue Jays: They just dumped Roy Halladay’s big contract.
Red Sox: They have too much long-term money tied up in John Lackey and Josh Beckett.

AL Central

Twins: Minnesota has shed the small-market label, but it just gave Joe Mauer a monstrous deal.
Tigers: Detroit just paid big bucks to extend Justin Verlander’s contract, and it was cautious with its spending this past offseason.
White Sox: Oswalt and Jake Peavy are friends, but Chicago probably can’t afford both (and might be spooked by Peavy’s subpar performance since trading for him).

AL West

Angels: Their rotation already is loaded, though partially with underachievers.
A’s: Ben Sheets was their pricy rotation acquisition. Don’t expect Oakland to throw much more money around.

NL East

Phillies: Philadelphia’s most pressing need is to find money to re-sign Jayson Werth. Plus, the Phillies just sacrificed plenty of young talent for Cliff Lee and then Halladay.
Braves: It’s possible, but Atlanta would be better off spending for a bat. Plus, the Braves already are saddled with Derek Lowe’s big contract.
Marlins: Florida just broke the bank to extend Josh Johnson’s contract.

NL Central

Cardinals: Houston probably would balk at an intra-divisional deal, and St. Louis has to save for Albert Pujols’ next contract.
Cubs: An Oswalt deal is a possibility, especially if the new ownership group wants to make a splash. But Chicago likely would have to move Carlos Zambrano (and his big contract) first.

NL West

Padres: Much like Toronto with Halladay, San Diego just dumped Jake Peavy and his big contract.
Giants: They already have four excellent starting pitchers and need to spend to add offense.
Rockies: Finally healthy, their rotation is solid. Plus, Coors Field might not appeal to Oswalt.

Chris Bahr is a senior editor for Sporting News. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

Roy Oswalt has pitched well this season but received little run support.
Roy Oswalt has pitched well this season but received little run support.

Although Astros ace Roy Oswalt has requested a trade, getting a deal done won’t be easy. The righthander has veto power and just under $30 million remaining on his contract (excluding the $16 million team option for 2012). The perfect match: an out-of-division contender that can afford the commitment and satisfy Houston’s desire for young talent in return.

Three possible fits:

Dodgers

Why Oswalt makes sense: The rotation has been much improved of late but still lacks a veteran No. 1 starter. Oswalt would take a ton of pressure off Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley and eliminate the need to depend heavily on Vicente Padilla. Pitching in spacious Dodger Stadium would appeal to Oswalt.

Stumbling block: The pending divorce of the team’s owners has tied up the purse strings — part of the reason Los Angeles didn’t acquire an ace this past offseason.

Rangers

Why Oswalt makes sense: The workhorse is exactly what Rangers president Nolan Ryan craves. The move from one Texas team to another would be a smooth one, and though Rangers Ballpark in Arlington isn’t pitcher-friendly, neither is Minute Maid Park. In any case, run support no longer would be a concern.

Stumbling block: The team’s pending sale — to a group that includes Ryan — has tied up the finances. Assuming that is cleared up, Texas should have some money to spend.

Mets

Why Oswalt makes sense: With John Maine and Jon Niese on the disabled list and Oliver Perez banished to the bullpen, New York is in desperate need of starters. And Oswalt would be an outstanding complement to lefthander Johan Santana. Like the Dodgers, the Mets neglected to add the top-of-the-rotation arm they needed during the offseason.

Stumbling block: The last-place Mets aren’t exactly contenders, which could scare away Oswalt. But they aren’t completely buried, either, and Carlos Beltran — a former teammate of Oswalt in Houston — should be back eventually.

The dark horses

Nationals

Why Oswalt makes sense: He’d be the perfect mentor for Stephen Strasburg and bring immediate legitimacy to a rotation that still is a weakness.

Stumbling block: Washington, though an up-and-coming franchise, isn’t a bona fide contender yet and plays in a loaded division. Thus, Oswalt could exercise his no-trade clause to block the deal.

Reds

Why Oswalt makes sense: Cincinnati has earned contender status more quickly than most expected, and the contracts of Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang will come off the books after this season (freeing up money). A rotation of Oswalt, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman would be impressive.

Stumbling block: The Astros are far from eager to have Oswalt haunt them in head-to-head meetings in the future.

The others

As mentioned, Oswalt probably won’t be interested in leaving one non-contender for another. So, you can cross plenty of teams (Orioles, Pirates, Mariners, etc.) off the list of would-be suitors. And even plenty of this season’s contenders probably will shy away from the chance to acquire Oswalt. Here’s why:

AL East

Rays: Their rotation already is stellar, they plan to slash payroll after this season, and they have to try to re-sign Carl Crawford or Carlos Pena.
Yankees: Never count them out, but the Yankees have little need and have shown financial restraint lately.
Blue Jays: They just dumped Roy Halladay’s big contract.
Red Sox: They have too much long-term money tied up in John Lackey and Josh Beckett.

AL Central

Twins: Minnesota has shed the small-market label, but it just gave Joe Mauer a monstrous deal.
Tigers: Detroit just paid big bucks to extend Justin Verlander’s contract, and it was cautious with its spending this past offseason.
White Sox: Oswalt and Jake Peavy are friends, but Chicago probably can’t afford both (and might be spooked by Peavy’s subpar performance since trading for him).

AL West

Angels: Their rotation already is loaded, though partially with underachievers.
A’s: Ben Sheets was their pricy rotation acquisition. Don’t expect Oakland to throw much more money around.

NL East

Phillies: Philadelphia’s most pressing need is to find money to re-sign Jayson Werth. Plus, the Phillies just sacrificed plenty of young talent for Cliff Lee and then Halladay.
Braves: It’s possible, but Atlanta would be better off spending for a bat. Plus, the Braves already are saddled with Derek Lowe’s big contract.
Marlins: Florida just broke the bank to extend Josh Johnson’s contract.

NL Central

Cardinals: Houston probably would balk at an intra-divisional deal, and St. Louis has to save for Albert Pujols’ next contract.
Cubs: An Oswalt deal is a possibility, especially if the new ownership group wants to make a splash. But Chicago likely would have to move Carlos Zambrano (and his big contract) first.

NL West

Padres: Much like Toronto with Halladay, San Diego just dumped Jake Peavy and his big contract.
Giants: They already have four excellent starting pitchers and need to spend to add offense.
Rockies: Finally healthy, their rotation is solid. Plus, Coors Field might not appeal to Oswalt.

Chris Bahr is a senior editor for Sporting News. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

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