When the Philadelphia Phillies declined to exercise starting pitcher Roy Oswalt's $16 million mutual option on October 24, there was little surprise among fans. Paying $16 million for a player who posted a losing record amidst an injury-riddled season would have been absurd, and the Phillies opted to pay Oswalt his $2 million buyout.
Even when the Phillies declined to offer arbitration to Oswalt on November 23, it was nothing shocking. Despite Oswalt being the only Type A free agent not offered arbitration this offseason, had he accepted, he could have made more money than the Phillies felt he is worth at this stage of his career.
What the real surprise is, though, is that Oswalt is still unsigned with two days left before the mandatory reporting date for pitchers and catchers. Being a model of relative consistency over the last few seasons, Oswalt was considered one of the top free-agent starting pitchers this offseason, and one of the top free agents overall.
In spite of this, Oswalt and his agent, Bob Garber, have not found a suitor for the Mississippi native. While he's had some opportunities to sign, he hasn't been content with the teams offering the contracts, such as the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Just a few weeks back, it was rumored that Oswalt and the St. Louis Cardinals were closing in on a contract. However, the rumors proved to be false, for the Cardinals have no payroll or rotation space to sign Oswalt.
It's also for the same reason that the Texas Rangers—Oswalt's other top choice—have not signed the veteran right-hander.
Although both Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. and ESPN.com reporter Jayson Stark have stated that Oswalt to the Phillies is "[not a] fit for us right now" and is "not gonna happen," respectively, things can change.
Of all the teams interested in Oswalt's services combined with his interest level in pitching for the respective teams, the Phillies likely lead the pack, but the team would have to trade Joe Blanton in order to allow for both a rotation spot and payroll room to accommodate Oswalt, though they have considered that possibility.
Should Oswalt's demands subside and his asking price comes in somewhere below $8 million, if not below $5 million, he could be a possibility to re-sign. There are many positives to bringing back the man, and if the Phillies do decide to go that route, it could benefit them for a number of reasons, reasons which we'll investigate today.