It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Roy Oswalt would retire after this season due to his lingering back problems and his desire to be with his family. Oswalt's conversations throughout the season with Philadelphia Phillies beat reporters also made it seem as if his mind was made up.
Oswalt has made it clear since the end of the regular season that he is indeed intent on playing at least another three seasons.
The Phillies have players like Jimmy Rollins, Brad Lidge and Raul Ibanez coming off the books, but the team will need to either re-sign Ryan Madson or acquire another closer via free agency. A new contract for Cole Hamels is also looming.
Oswalt has a club option for next season at $16 million, with a $2 million buyout. It seems likely that the Phillies will buy out Oswalt, but that doesn't mean they will not bring him back at a lesser price.
Oswalt showed at the end of the season that his arm is still lively and he still has the action and life in his fastball that has made him the fifth active pitcher in career winning percentage.
Philadelphia still may have to deal with the possibility that Oswalt may be gone. Here are five possible replacements for Roy Oswalt if he is gone in 2012.
Vance Worley proved in 2011 that he can be a potent replacement for Roy Oswalt in the starting rotation. The Vanimal virtually came out of nowhere when Oswalt and Joe Blanton were placed onto the IR and was a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate.
Worley was 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 2011. He showed that he is not afraid to pitch inside and has a fastball with a lot of movement.
His tailing fastball is devastating against LH hitters and he is a fearless 24-year-old. The Phillies are getting great value out of Worley's contract at this point and we will certainly find out if he is more than a one-hit wonder.
The Philadelphia Phillies still owe Joe Blanton a "hefty" $8.5 million in 2012, so he will be pitching for this team in some capacity. Blanton may be better served pitching out the bullpen for the Phillies in 2012, as he battled elbow injuries all season long.
Blanton has been a reliable innings-eater over the course of his career and would be a nice fifth starter for the Phillies behind Worley. Maybe the Texas Rangers will trade Nelson Cruz for Joe Blanton and a bag of chips to be named later?
Kyle Kendrick looks a lot like Ryan Madson, but he certainly doesn't pitch like him. Kendrick actually had a really solid season as he was effective as both a bullpen guy and starting pitcher.
Kendrick is a valuable piece to this team as pitchers will almost always go down over the course of a 162 game season. Kendrick may not be a prized fourth starter, but he certainly has the ability to be a serviceable fifth starter for this team.
Kendrick is a .500 pitcher that has been inconsistent up until this past season. Maybe 2011 was a turning point for the right hander.
Here's a name for Philadelphia Phillies fans that will not have them jumping for joy, but he certainly is a good MLB pitcher and could help this team. Paul Maholm was 6-14 in 2011 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he had a 3.66 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.
Maholm would be another lefty in this rotation and a change of scenery from Pittsburgh to PA's bigger/better brother city may do wonders for Maholm.
The Phillies have invested a ton of money in just nine players for 2012 and Maholm at a cheap price would give them starting and bullpen depth if Kendrick isn't re-signed.
C.J. Wilson is the ace of a Texas Rangers team that has advanced to the World Series twice, so why would he come to Philadelphia? If the Phillies feel that they will not be able to re-sign Cole Hamels, then trading Hamels for a really good bat and bullpen arm could be an option.
Wilson is a converted reliever who does not have a lot of wear and tear on his arm at this point. Adding Wilson to an already stacked rotation could only happen if Ruben Amaro feels that he will be priced out of the Cole Hamels sweepstakes.
I really hope that doesn't happen, as King Cole is one of the few young pitchers we still have.