Roy Oswalt, former 4th wheel of the Phillies “best rotation ever”, is a free agent and has apparently told teams that he is only seeking a one year deal. Before Jerry Crasnick of ESPN broke this news over Twitter (how long before MLB Network just runs a secondary feed showing a Twitter timeline?) rumors surrounding his likely destination had been few and far between as many assumed that he would be seeking a multi-year deal. Even though Oswalt was classified as a Type-A Free Agent, the team who signs him will not need to give up a draft pick as the Phillies did not offer him arbitration (likely because they did not want to pay him the assumed $16 Mill price tag that would have gone along with it). Oswalt, the former #1 of the Houston Astros, is starting the downside of his career, so 16 Mill on a one-year deal is not likely, meaning he should have appeal to great number of clubs. The question is – are the Detroit Tigers one of them?
If the Tigers are interested in Oswalt, they could have competition with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox (among others), who are both known to want a middle of the rotation starter. The question is, would Oswalt want to play in such an environment after dealing with the Philly fans (the mascot is called the fanatic for good reason)? Detroit could be just the place for him to prove his durability while at the same time making another run at the post-season.
Oswalt, while likely commanding a higher salary than what Brad Penny did, would fit the rotation well. The Tigers (and their fans) seem to be looking for some one to fit that 5th spot in the rotation who is more than just a 5th SP, hence the interest in Gio Gonzalez. They are also looking for a player on a short term contract, not someone who will be tired up for several years. With players such as Jacob Turner and Drew Smyly just a year (if that) away from contribution in the big leagues, they want freedom with both salary and roster spots, which could explain why you have not seen their name linked to Edwin Jackson (who would surely want a 3+ year deal with a no-trade clause). Oswalt may not be a 200 inning pitcher any more thanks to some back issues, but he could be good for 160+. Given the Tigers depth with some young starters like I mentioned before, it could actually provide a nice opportunity to give the youngsters some low pressure big league time.
MLBTradeRumors has an article up today listing many of Roy Oswalt’s current suitors – the Tigers are not named. However, they also mention that he is not in a hurry to sign and would prefer to let the trade market (Gio Gonzalez and Matt Garza to name a couple) play out before settling on his 1 year home. With Oswalt’s injury issues, a move to the American League is certainly not out of the question for a guy who has spent his entire career in the NL. For a guy with a bad back, one has to think he does not relish the idea of being a hitter and occasional baserunner in addition to pitching. All of this could play perfectly to the Tigers advantage as they always like to make a move or two in late January to finish off the projected 25 man roster before heading into Spring Training. So, while the Tigers aren’t in on Roy Oswalt, the key word to remember is YET. Given how well he would fit into this (still) young rotation and provide a bridge to the future, I fully expect to the Tigers to look into this possibility (Bless You Boys agrees that Oswalt would be a very nice fit and gives a bit more of a statistical analysis).