Wait, wait, wait, you’re thinking. “You’re crazy, right? Why would you even have to think about keeping Roy Oswalt next season? He’s ¼ of the greatest rotation ever assembled, so you’re an idiot. The dude has been insanely good here, what’s to think about?”
All fair points, my friend. But the fact of the matter is, there’s still a decision to be made. In 2012, Oswalt will be owed a great sum of money and the Phillies do have some pressing needs looking deeper into the future
One of those is certainly offense, which is right now a focal point for this team.
If they do keep him in 2012, the Phillies payroll will be over $126 million for 10 players, plus Brad Lidge’s $1.5 million option. Without Oswalt, it’s $112 million for nine players due to a $2 million opt-put clause in his deal.
Here are some pros and cons to keeping Roy Oswalt in 2012:
-The dude has been outstanding. With the Phillies he’s 10-2 with a 2.13 ERA. His WHIP is a ridiculous 0.93 over 17 starts. Oswalt’s K/9 is 7.7, better than it was with Houston.
-He’s owed $16 million in 2010, not a ridiculous amount considering he’s one of the 20 best pitchers in baseball. Plus, it’s only one year the Phillies payroll is out of hand. After 2012, there are only a few contracts remaining.
-Oswalt has been a model of consistency. Seven straight seasons he’s started 30 games or more.
-For all the talk about the back issues, this is only the third time Oswalt has been on the disabled list.
-Oswalt will turn 34 on August 29, meaning he’ll still be 34 for the better part of next season, still not quite “old” by industry standards.
-The guy is a workhorse. He’s a proverbial “bulldog” a guy who wants to shut you up and sit you down with a great array of pitches.
-Speaking of those pitches, Oswalt is still working them quite well. The fastball gets up to 94 and he’s added a devastating changeup. So if and when that fastball begins to lose velocity, he’s setting himself up for great years in his late 30s with solid secondary stuff.
-The Phillies don’t necessarily need the Four Aces. Three is plenty.
-If they don’t keep him, they can use that $16 million toward offense on the open market, or locking up existing players. Is shoring up the offense a more pressing need than having four aces?
-Of those existing players, Ryan Madson and Jimmy Rollins are two of the names that the Phillies could re-sign. Cole Hamels is also due for a major raise. If Oswalt comes off the books, it would help.
-While this only the third time being on the DL in his career, Oswalt has dealt with back issues his entire career. As he ages, will that continue to be the case?
-Roy Oswalt has stated that family comes first and baseball is secondary in his life. Might this be his last season anyway? If he walks away, he still gets $2 million with the option decline.
–Vance Worley is young, but a youthful talent like him taking over could be a blessing in disguise.
-If the Phillies do decline Oswalt’s option, here are some not-so-awful names (no, they aren’t close to Oswalt’s caliber) that would likely be available at a cheaper cost (for one season – I understand these guys would likely want multi-year deals): Chris Carpenter, Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, Ryan Dempster, Jeff Francis, CJ Wilson and Hiroki Kuroda.
Depending on how the season plays out, it seems fairly likely the Phillies will keep Oswalt around. But, they are faced with a ballooning payroll and a stagnant offense that is need of being reworked. This is not as easy as just saying yes.