It’s crunch time, friends. The non-waiver trade deadline looms just 10 days away and the flurry of moves that most pundits are expecting really hasn’t yet begun. Expect that to change quickly, perhaps as early as today.
Phillis Making Noise
The two-time defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly closing in on a deal for Astros ace right hander Roy Oswalt. This news materialized quickly yesterday after multiple outlets commented on how slowly the market for Oswalt was developing. But it only takes one team, one GM, to show interest in order to stoke the flames.
FanHouse’s Ed Price says that talks between the Phillies and Astros are “heavy” and Houston may be ready to ask Oswalt for his approval for the deal. Oswalt carries a full no-trade clause in his contract, one that pays him $15 million this year and $16 million in 2011. Oswalt also has a club option for $16 million in 2012 and is rumored to want that option exercised in exchange for his approval of a trade. (we’ll dig deeper after the jump)
Further complicating matters is that Oswalt only wants to go to a team with an obvious chance at the playoffs this year. The Phillies are third in the NL East and sixth in the Wild Card standings, so there’s no guarantees there. The Astros also want top prospects in return for their ace, and don’t want to pick up much of the salary, either.
In order to make this work, Price’s article says, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro would be looking to trade OF Jayson Werth in order to free up salary space. Werth has fallen out of favor in Philadelphia and is a free agent after the year. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that the Tampa Bay Rays are in discussions with Amaro regarding Werth, who would fit nicely into the Rays order.
Just think, had Amaro held onto Cliff Lee last offseason, they wouldn’t have to be discussing adding Oswalt or trading Werth right now. He could have had Lee and Weth, with no commitments beyond 2010, now it looks like he might wind up with Osawlt instead of those two guys and be on the hook for roughly $40 million in salary. Not exactly Executive of the Year award-winning moves.
Mets in the Pitching Hunt
The Mets are looking to add a starting pitcher, and remain in the running for Cubs left hander Ted Lilly. New York sits second behind Atlanta in the NL East and have managed to stay in contention despite wading through injuries in the first half. Now that CF Carlos Beltran has returned to the lineup, GM Omar Minaya is turning his attention to building up his pitching staff.
New York needs bullpen help as well and FoxSports is reporting that relief help could come in the form of Toronto’s Scott Downs or Pittsburgh’s Octavio Dotel. That doesn’t figure to be changed by the signing today of former Nats closer Chad Cordero. Cordero was DFA’d by Seattle last week and elected free agency, the Mets got him on a minor league deal.
Minaya and the Mets are also interested to varying degrees in right handers Brett Myers, Jake Westbrook, and Ben Sheets, though not as much as in Lilly. The Chicago southpaw is also drawing interest from the Tigers, though with the recent injury to third baseman Brandon Inge to go along with their current seven game skid, Detroit may be (read: should be) re-assessing their “buyer” status.
Rangers Still Looking to Add
The Texas Rangers are threatening to run away and hide in the NL West and despite their lack of stability in the owner’s box, GM Jon Daniels has already improved his club’s chances by dealing for catcher Bengie Molina and ace lefty Cliff Lee. And they’re not done.
As part of the Lee deal, Texas had to surrender 1B Justin Smoak, who had been the regular for the Rangers. They recalled Chris Davis from AAA to fill the position, but Davis’ astounding minor league numbers have not yet translated to big league success. As a result, Daniels is continuing to look for help at first base.
The Rangers have been connected to Mike Lowell, Jorge Cantu, and Ty Wigginton in the past, and there’s a feeling like they still may wind up with Lowell from Boston, but in the meantime, the Rangers have reportedly inquired on Florida’s Wes Helms. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com first mentioned Helms and he would seem to be a good fit.
Texas cannot add salary considering their ownership situation and Helms has just $390K remaining on his contract. They also don’t necessarily need a proven slugger to complement Davis, as they believe Davis will hit and their lineup is already stacked, so carrying a weaker bat shouldn’t be as much of an issue for them.
Lou Piniella to Retire
The Cubs will have a much different look next season, both in terms of roster and in terms of leadership. The Cubs announced yesterday that skipper Lou Piniella will retire at the end of the season. Rumors are already rampant as to whom the Cubs might target to run the club next season, with names like Joe Torre, Joe Girardi, and Ryne Sandberg, who’s been managing in the Cubs minor-league system for years, tossed around.
Torre, in the final year of his contract with the Dodgers, is likely not returning next season, and though he just celebrated his 70th birthday, speculation is that he would like to manage for a few more years, just not in LA. Girardi is also in the last year of his deal, but it would be difficult to imagine him wanting to leave the Yankees, where he’s set up to win a title every year. Girardi twice played for the Cubs and played his college ball at Northwestern. His wife is a Chicago native as well, so there would be some interest there.
Topics: Chad Cordero, Chicago Cubs, Cliff Lee, Houston Astros, Jayson Werth, Jon Daniels, Lou Piniella, New York Mets, Omar Minaya, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Oswalt, Ruben Amaro, Tampa Bay Rays, Ted Lilly, Texas Rangers, Wes Helms