Cliff Lee was famously owed only $9 million more on his current contract, which ends after the 2010 season. When Ruben Amaro decided to trade Lee he cited, amongst other issues, the money involved in keeping Lee.
Now he has acquired a guy who has $16 million coming to him next season and a team option for $16 million more in 2012 that he has demanded any team looking to acquire him agree to pick up.
So what gives?
First of all, with Lee's contract ending this year, he is set to demand a huge payday in the offseason, and he will in all likelihood receive a contract similar to that given to C.C. Sabathia by the Yankees before last season.
Thus, if the Phillies were going to keep Lee, they were going to need to commit over $100 million over the next five or six years to a guy who turns 32 in August.
Second of all, the Astros are throwing in a considerable amount of money to take care of Oswalt's salary. The 'Stros are said to be kicking in $11 million to defray the cost of Oswalt's contract this year and next.
At the end of the day, that means Oswalt will only cost the Phils about $10 million dollars through 2011, which is a bargain when you consider the fact that Cliff Lee would likely have cost at least $30 million over that same period.
The Phillies have chosen to spend their money in interesting ways the last 12 months—see Jamie Moyer, Ryan Howard, and Roy Halladay. Nevertheless, from a dollars-and-cents perspective, Oswalt leaves the team in much better shape.