It was kind of inevitable. When Roy Oswalt limited himself to just a couple of teams he would like to go to in free agency, and they turned him and his price tag down, he was eventually going to have to open his mind to other possibilities. It seemed the veteran pitcher was going to wait out major league baseball, and join someone mid-season when the desperation of teams gets ramped up a bit, however that may no longer be the case. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Oswalt is now open to pitching for a team other than the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.
My assumption is that Oswalt, who is 34 years old, is going to want to pitch for a contender in 2012, while proving that he is healthy enough to earn that last multi-year contract. So anyone might be a stretch.
That of course brings to mind our hometown team, the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers in the world of baseball right now aren’t just anyone. They stand poised, at least on paper, to run away with the Central division in the American League, and while we shouldn’t count the chickens before they hatch, I’m already on 23 chickens, and the rest of the teams in the Central don’t own a chicken farm.
The Tigers are also known for a couple of other things that might intrigue Mr. Oswalt. Their owner, Mike Ilitch, is craving himself a World Series title big time, and is willing to throw some chedda at guys that can help him get there. Word is, the Tigers already tried to acquire Roy Oswalt, offering 10M dollars to do so. Not only that, Tigers staff ace Justin Verlander even tried to recruit Oswalt, but Verlander was spurned by Oswalt faster than he was by Kate Upton at the door of the Perfect Game Club.
The Tigers also have themselves an open spot in the rotation right now. Just 2 days ago, Tigers top prospect Jacob Turner struggled his way through his first spring start, though he is just one of many vying for the last spot in the rotation. David Dombrowski and company seem to be okay with letting the youngsters compete for the last spot, but the earlier offer to Oswalt would indicate that they are certainly open to adding the right guy. Oswalt might just be that.
I’m not going to go to extensively into Oswalt’s career. We all know he has been one of the best pitchers in the National League for a long time with the Houston Astros. He has won 63% of his games over his career with a 3.21 ERA. That is pretty impressive, but not what intrigues me the most about Oswalt. Dude is big time in the 2nd half of the season. Oswalt wins about 74% of his games in the 2nd half of a season over his career, and has posted an ERA of 3.00. To put it simply, he is a guy you want taking the ball every fifth day down the stretch. Oswalt is typically solid in the post-season as well, compiling a career ERA of 3.73. Despite how terrible the Astros have been in recent history, Oswalt is no stranger to pitching in pressure situations, having been in Philly for a couple years as well.
It will be interesting to see if the Tigers cast their fishing pole out in Roy Oswalt’s direction again after being spurned the first time. I don’t see why they wouldn’t. While the Tigers are perfectly comfortable going with the youngsters in the 5th spot in the rotation, they would be doing a disservice to themselves if they didn’t at least explore the option. Let’s be honest, who do you want pitching for the Tigers in August, Roy Oswalt or Adam Wilk?
Money isn’t going to be the problem, so what is? Well on the Tigers end, they may just want to move on. After all, they did make a significant offer and Oswalt said no. But baseball is a business, and just because you get turned down once for a dance, doesn’t mean you stand by and watch someone else walk off with the prize. I can’t imagine that would affect the Tigers organization’s approach here.
No…the biggest problem is going to convince the country boy to play in the city, where the fishing is sparse, and quietness of nature is a little bit of a drive away. That’s what all this was about in the first place for Oswalt, being close to family and where he wants to live. I’ve got no problems with a guy who has those two things at the top of his priority list. He’s earned that right to want those things in free agency.
He might be open now, but I have to think his desire to pitch in Detroit might not be there still. That’s certainly okay. He wouldn’t be the first athlete to turn down an offer to the Motor City.
I will say this though. No city treats it’s athletes better Roy, and 10M dollars would’ve bought a lot of flights back home. Think about it, really think about it, Detroit isn’t all that bad when you do.