Cleveland Indians: With Carmona Out, Tribe Must Turn to Free Agent Oswalt

Sean ManContributor IIJanuary 19, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in a game on September 17, 2011 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians are down a starting pitcher. 

With the news that Fausto Carmona may not be who we think he is, the Tribe has got to make a move and make it fast. After picking up a $7 million option on Carmona, the Indians are unlikely to see Roberto Hernandez Heredia at camp, thanks to his possible arrest and jail time in the Dominican Republic.

That leaves Masterson and Jimenez at the front of the rotation. The 2011 opening day starter will have to face even bigger question marks than the ones he faced last season. 

If Carmona is in fact arrested, he'll be placed on the restricted list. In this case, his $7 million salary in 2012 will be suspended until he returns. How to reallocate that money?

Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt is not only better than Carmona, but he may be younger (who knows?) and surely more dominant. Oswalt has been treading water in free agency since the offseason began, and it's not until now that real suitors have started to emerge. The Indians, in a win-now mode, should be that top suitor.

What does Oswalt bring? Beyond years of success and consistency, he brings a third formidable arm to the starting staff. Though Masterson, Jimenez and Oswalt don't match up to the Phillies' 2011 trio, they surely will be a drastic upgrade from last year's opening day starting three in Carmona, Carlos Carrasco and Masterson.

The Astros' long-time ace is surely a bargain at this point. The 34-year-old was plagued by injuries in '11, but he's still got something left in the tank. In 2010, he placed sixth in the NL Cy Young voting. 

Would a one-year deal work? You bet. After all, Oswalt was the one forecasting his retirement just a few seasons ago. He's seeking $8 million at this point.

The Indians could potentially afford that, especially depending on what happens with Fausto-Roberto-Hernandez-Heredia-Carmona...

Oswalt's other potential suitors include the Red Sox (who reportedly must move some pieces to create budget room for him). Though he did have the back woes last season, he sparkled in his final six starts through September and looks primed for another solid season.

What an addition he would be to the Indians.