Free agent Roy Oswalt is still on the market, but while conventional wisdom might persuade a GM to sign the former Phillies pitcher before Opening Day, the Arizona Diamondbacks and GM Kevin Towers would benefit from playing the waiting game.
Agent Bob Garber has announced that Oswalt is willing to entertain the notion of remaining a free agent well into the 2012 season, with one caveat: Oswalt would like to pitch for "a contender."
Meeting that qualification should be no problem for the 2011 NL West champion Diamondbacks. In the end, though, it might be most advantageous for the D-Backs to wait it out and sign Oswalt midseason, hoping of course that no other contender jumps the gun and acquires Oswalt too early.
Oswalt—who is looking for a short-term deal—is 34 years old and looking to rebound after an injury-plagued 2011 season, in which he collected a 9-10 record, 3.69 ERA and just 93 strikeouts in 139.0 innings of work.
Instead, Oswalt is hoping a late 2012 arrival will conjure up shades of his July 2010 debut with the Phillies after his departure from Houston: Oswalt's 2010 line with Philadelphia was 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA, a blazing 0.90 WHIP and a big-time .186 batting average against.
After earning $15 million in 2010 and $16 million in 2011, Oswalt is presently far out of Arizona's financial capability, though Baseball Player Salaries has classified Oswalt as "overpaid."
When Roger Clemens took a similar midseason signing approach in 2006, his salary dipped by $5.8 million. Although, when Pedro Martinez signed midseason with the Phillies three years ago, his $11.8 salary with the 2008 New York Mets turned into a one-year, $1 million contract in 2009—a decrease of over $10 million.
If the Diamondbacks are successful in playing the waiting game and sign Oswalt midseason, that $16 million price tag will likely drop significantly, hopefully somewhere near the club's maximum 2012 expense in the single-digit range.
Between Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill, Josh Collmenter and Joe Saunders, this season's debut rotation is pretty much set—Oswalt would not be a great fit for Arizona this early in 2012.
Instead, the Diamondbacks could use the extra pre-All-Star Break months to evaluate the back end of their rotation, either preparing to send Collmenter to the bullpen for some seasoning or finding a buyer for the high-priced (for Arizona) Saunders, with the hopes of picking up an extra bat via the trade.
The Diamondbacks are hoping to return to the postseason in 2012 and former NLCS MVP Roy Oswalt could be just the ticket—that is, if the Diamondbacks wait until the time is right.