Dec
20

Add Roy Oswalt to possible Yankee targets

By

AP Photo

Years ago he might have topped the list of Yankee targets. Today he’s having trouble getting a multiyear offer from any team. Roy Oswalt’s first foray into the free agent market couldn’t have come at a worse time. The market for pitching is relatively thin, yet he’s coming off a season during which he missed 53 team games with lower back injuries. Making matters worse, two years ago he was diagnosed with two degenerative discs in his back. That makes it difficult for any team to justify a multiyear offer. Now it appears that Oswalt is ready to face reality.

This morning ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported that Oswalt wants only a one-year deal. The idea: show his back is healthy so that he can reenter the market next year and hopefully score the multiyear deal he sought this off-season. Apparently six teams are in conversation with him, and while we don’t know the Yankees level of interest it’s difficult to see them standing on the sidelines. In some ways Oswalt fits their needs.

Despite his recent history of lower back issues — he has missed almost 100 games since 2008 with lower back injuries — Oswalt has rarely suffered in terms of performance. In 2009, when the issues really started to crop up, he produced a career worst ERA, but even then it was 4.12. He then bounced back in 2010 to start 32 games, pitch 211 innings, and finish the season with a 2.76 ERA, his best in any season since a 2.73 ERA in 141 innings in 2001. Of course, he followed that with only 139 innings in 23 starts last season, though he did still manage a 3.69 ERA and 3.44 FIP. In 2012, his age-34 season, we can still expect a certain level of effectiveness when he’s on the mound.

Even on a one-year deal, Oswalt’s back issues present a problem. We heard earlier in the off-season that the Yankees were concerned about Oswalt’s back. That matters more in terms of a multi-year deal, but it also plays a part in a one-year arrangement. The Yankees would still rely on Oswalt to make 30 starts, so if he comes up short due to the same back issues they’ll have to rely more heavily on Plan B — and then Plan C, and Plan D, and so on. That is, if the Yankees are truly concerned about the state of Oswalt’s back, they should probably stay away regardless of contract term.

Still, of all the remaining pitchers on the market Oswalt has the highest ceiling. He might be a career National Leaguer, but he’s passed through a number of tests along the way. He pitched in the hitters’ park known as Minute Maid Park, and then graduated to another hitters’ park, Citizen Bank Ballpark. He’s appeared in the postseason four times, pitching to a 3.73 ERA in 72.1 innings. He also has about a season’s worth of interleague starts, pitching to a 3.70 ERA in 199.1 innings (30 starts). His impeccable control, 2.09 BB/9 for his career, could also help him manage the transition between leagues.

One major question regarding Oswalt: why would he want to rebuild his value in New York? This isn’t an end-of-career deal, where he’s just looking to catch on with a strong contender for one last hurrah. This is a player seeking to rebuild his value and get a multiyear contract next off-season, at age 35. While it might not behoove him to hide out in a known pitchers’ haven, such as San Diego, facing the AL East offenses frequently might not be the best idea, either. He wouldn’t have to face the Yanks offense, a major plus, but he’d have a number of starts against other above-average offenses. He might prefer to remain in the NL for this reason — or, if he’d like to prove he’s not just an NL guy, he could seek a rotation spot in the much less vicious AL Central.

At the same time, Oswalt could view New York as the perfect place to rebuild his value. Remember, he did talk about retirement last year while his back ailed him. Perhaps he wants to go all-in with this last attempt. If he succeeds, he extends his career by a few years. If he fails, he rides into retirement. In that case, the Yankees could be a good fit. He’d have a chance to be the No. 2 on a sure contender. Furthermore, a solid performance on the Yankees could turn a lot of heads. It could even entice the Yankees themselves to offer him a contract after the season. Even a slightly above average performance for the Yankees could be more attractive next off-season than a well above average performance elsewhere.

Oswalt’s newfound availability puts him in the same league as Hiroki Kuroda: risky, but with plenty of upside. Oswalt has a higher ceiling, but also has the greater risk of giving you nothing. Kuroda is the better bet to give you 30 starts, but his ceiling is lower than Oswalt’s. His age is also a concern; any decline will greatly affect his performance for the Yankees. The Yankees might not end up with either, but they’d do just fine by signing either to a one-year deal.

Categories : Pitching

68 Comments»

  1. theyankeewarrior says:

    The Yankees DFAed a young, proven, up-and-coming, 400k/year, pitcher with a bad back. But they’re also interested in an old, NL, expensive, pitcher with a bad back?

    Seems hypocritical to me.

    Also, Kuroda on the verge of a deal and it’s not with the Yanks according to Tim Brown.

    I’m so f*&%ing confused.

    AJ + Freddy + Nova + Phil + Warren/Phelps = CHAMPIONSHIP

    • CP says:

      AJ + Freddy + Nova + Phil + Warren/Phelps = CHAMPIONSHIP

      When did the Yankees trade CC?

      • theyankeewarrior says:

        Point taken, but we all know that the rotation is unacceptable with this team’s resources. We have one proven starter. The Yankees have never won the WS with this kind of rotation. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? Of course not.

        Just frustrating to not be able to acquire anyone better than Ivan freaking Nova since we dumped a mac truck full of money into CC’s bank account three full years ago.

        • CP says:

          The best team in the AL last year had the following rotation:

          CC + AJ + Freddy + Nova + Phil + Colon

          And that had the third best xFIP in the AL (just comparing starters), so it’s not just that a great offense was covering for a crappy rotation.

          • theyankeewarrior says:

            Ok, and you expect two of the above non-CC pitchers to give the Yanks a season like Colon and Garcia did? Or even Nova? They all pitched like miracle men.

            No one has a crystal ball here, but I think most of us can agree that any of those guys under CC have a pretty decent chance at being fairly dreadful at any moment. If not all of them together.

            The point is, we have more money than anyone around + a boat load of prospects, and we can’t find an upgrade for Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia.

            That sucks.

            • CP says:

              I certainly think that it’s reasonable that the 2012 Yankee starters will pitch comparably to the 2011 Yankee starts (overall – not necessarily individually).

              I would like the Yankees to pick up another good (#2) starter, but it’s not like their rotation sucks right now. Add onto that the fact that they have a lot of depth in AAA, and I’m confident that the team will have a rotation that is good enough to win the division.

              • theyankeewarrior says:

                It’s certainly reasonable to assume that. But it’s also reasonable to assume the opposite.

                However, I don’t have much faith that any of them will perform in October against the top offenses in the AL (like the Rangers). Nor do I have faith that the front office can do anything about upgrading the rotation mid-season.

                Because they simply haven’t been able to do so.

                • Mike Axisa says:

                  I didn’t think a pitching staff with Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook, and Edwin Jackson holding down the Rangers either, but guess what…

                  • theyankeewarrior says:

                    Certainly possible. Not likely.

                    All I’m saying is that:

                    1) Oswalt seems like an unlikely fit due to how the Yankees are passing on anyone and everyone. reports are claiming the same thing.

                    and 2) The Yankees starting rotation is both important and highly questionable after CC. I think we can all agree that it is, and that we would like to see something done about it.

                    Until then, I will be readying myself for this with every pitch Nova & co. throw.

                    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play......8;c_id=mlb

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      It’s a matter of degree. Everyone sees that their rotation isn’t ideal. How not-ideal? What they should do/have done to improve it? Opinions differ.

                  • Bryan says:

                    Baseball’s all about odds. The odds of that St Louis rotation beating the Rangers again are likely lower than the odds of the Phillies’ rotation beating the Rangers.

                    In the first place, that whole St Louis team had ‘outlier’ written all over it the moment they qualified for the post-season.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      Pitching is only one part of the story. The Cardinals had the best offense in the NL even though Freese missed 2/3 of the season and they didn’t get Furcal till mid-season. The Phillies had the 7th best offense in the NL.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      Sorry, Freese played 2/3 and missed 1/3.

      • Jesse says:

        Didn’t you hear? They traded CC for a $22M fifth inning guy out of the bullpen.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      Please tell me you are not comparing Aceves to Roy Oswalt…

      Obviously it was a mistake, but I must have missed the part where Aceves was a “proven” starting pitcher.

      • theyankeewarrior says:

        No. I’m not. I’m saying that if Aceves at league minimum is a no-go, why should a declining, old, $10M version of Oswalt be a go? Both with bad backs.

        Especially if they don’t even like a healthy Kuroda.

        Not sure if that makes sense.

        • Steve (different one) says:

          Because Oswalt’s upside is much more valuable than Aceves’ was? Look, I’m not trying to justify the Aceves decision, they missed the boat on that one. If they could do it over, they certainly would. But that doesn’t mean you can’t examine Oswalt and come to the conclusion that he isn’t worth the risk.

    • RetroRob says:

      Who is the young, proven, up-and-coming pitcher with a bad back the Yankeess DFA’d this offseason? Brackman? Proven? Or am I missing someone else.

      It wouldn’t be hypocritical since there is little chance Brackman could pitch as well as Oswalt.

  2. CANO FAN #1 says:

    1 year. 7M with some incentives…done

  3. CJ says:

    Mlbtraderumors reports yanks were informed Kuroda is not considering signing with them. Oswalt is good, health is too questionable.

  4. Ted Nelson says:

    I don’t know if he’s more or less attractive than Kuroda, but I think the Yankees are exactly the kind of team that has the Plan B, Plan C, etc. in place to take a risk on a guy like Oswalt.

    With no other roster moves Oswalt would give the Yankees 6 veterans for 5 rotation spots, plus #7-11 starters in AAA.

  5. It'sATarp says:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-yo.....interested

    Yanks still not interested

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....ltran.html

    Kuroda nearing deal with team that’s not the Yankees

    I was fine with skipping out on CJ and Darvish…But now it’s getting borderline stupid. If the Yankees are content with Hughes/Freddy and AJ then i really question the Front Office’s sensibility. Signing Oswalt/Kuroda would at the very least provide us with veteran depth and being one year deals there is virtually little risk involved. Yankees have slowly crossed the line between being smart and not overpaying to sitting on their asses and doing nothing despite obvious flaws.

  6. theyankeewarrior says:

    Patience! We still have time to pick up scrap-heap starters who won’t last into August and for Levine to sign another closer!

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      scrap-heap starters who won’t last into August

      Like the 2 they picked up last year in Colon and Garcia. Granted, neither was at their best as the season came to a close, but both were plenty good enough for them to be the best team in the AL with one of the best starting pitching staffs.

  7. whocarestom says:

    Ugh. I know Cash/Money is trying to open up payroll for future signings and player extensions, but why would you not sign a proven guy like Oswalt if all he wants is one year? Injuries are a risk to every player, but I’d like to see them roll the dice on Oswalt.

  8. Dan says:

    With CC, Nova, Garcia, Hughes, and AJ already on the roster, why would a veteran looking to up their value next season sign with the Yankees when there isn’t a guaranteed spot in the rotation? The Yankees would really only be an enticing option for a veteran pitcher if they can unload AJ to free a rotation spot. The only type of pitcher that they could sign now would be a similar option to Colon last year (someone coming off an injury that is just looking for any chance to pitch in majors)

  9. Peter R says:

    Agreed Joe, why would either Oswalt/Kuroda want to show their value on the Yankees. There is prob much more appealing places to rebuild your value at…then again it kinda worked for Sweaty Freddy.

    Yankees are going to have to make a move for Danks or Garza imo. Maybe Cash is just waiting the other GMs out till the value drops and he can swoop in and get rid of Nunez to make Mike happy?

    Heres hoping.

  10. Nolan Ryan II says:

    Oswalt to the 8th!!!!

  11. Cy Pettitte says:

    If they can’t get Kuroda for a one year deal I would do Oswalt on a one year deal for $5-8mil. If he works out great, if he hurts his back they have enough depth to fill out the rotation and they might be able to trade for a guy like Danks cheaper at the deadline since the Sox might be out of the play offs race and probably know they won’t be re-signing him.

  12. toad says:

    One major question regarding Oswalt: why would he want to rebuild his value in New York? This isn’t an end-of-career deal, where he’s just looking to catch on with a strong contender for one last hurrah. This is a player seeking to rebuild his value and get a multiyear contract next off-season, at age 35. While it might not behoove him to hide out in a known pitchers’ haven, such as San Diego, facing the AL East offenses frequently might not be the best idea, either. He wouldn’t have to face the Yanks offense, a major plus, but he’d have a number of starts against other above-average offenses. He might prefer to remain in the NL for this reason — or, if he’d like to prove he’s not just an NL guy, he could seek a rotation spot in the much less vicious AL Central.

    This is not a major question at all, because the implicit premise is wrong. A GM evaluating Oswalt next winter will take into account where he pitched. That GM is not just going to look at a couple of statistics and ignore the league, division, park, etc., in which they were compiled. So he’s not going to fool anyone by choosing an easier spot. This is the same fallacy involved in urging teams to “sell high” in trades. It assumes that the writer knows a ton more about judging players than the people who are actually in the business, and have tremendous resources available.

    That said, I’d think NY might be an attractive place for Oswalt to rebuild his career because the potential payoff is so great. NY gives him a chance to shine in a tough division. His performance upside is higher than elsewhere precisely because the AL East is so tough, and everyone knows it. Also, I wouldn’t dismiss the value of playing for a contender. Athletes like to be on winning teams, and the shot at maybe having a star turn in the post-season should be attractive from a financial point of view.

  13. Dan says:

    There is a better chance that he ends up in Boston than with the Yankees. They give him the best opportunity to be guaranteed a spot in the rotation. Right now all they have is Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz, with Bard transitioning to the rotation. That leaves one open spot. The Yankees would have to free up a spot, or go with a six-man rotation.

    • Gonzo says:

      I want to see Bard start so badly.

      • Dan says:

        Me too, that move made no sense to me. He was a bad starter in single A, but he is going to be able to move back now in the majors and have success. I don’t get the logic there.

        • Gonzo says:

          I think lefties will touch him up 2nd and 3rd time through the order too.

          Those minor league stats as a starter are real bad.

          • Dan says:

            Yeah, which is part of why I think Boston will go for as many cheap short-term SP options they can get, so Oswalt makes sense for them. Bard won’t last the whole year in the rotation, if he even makes it out of spring training (I hope he does).

  14. JCK says:

    “Even on a one-year deal, Oswalt’s back issues present a problem. … That is, if the Yankees are truly concerned about the state of Oswalt’s back, they should probably stay away regardless of contract term.”

    I don’t necessarily agree with this paragraph — I don’t think it’s that black and white. If Oswalt can provide 23 above average starts + 7 average to below average starts from Plan B (whoever that is), that still has value over all 30 starts coming from plan B. Essentially, if they’re concerned with his back, it comes down to economics (is the price forgivable for the amount of expected starts?), analysis versus alternatives (is he appreciably better than Plan B?), and acceptable risk (will he really make the expected number of starts or is the chance it will be fewer too great?).

    The only way they should stay away is if they plan to sign a pitcher or have a pitcher under contract that they evaluate as better in terms of performance and/or durability, whose roster spot would be blocked by Oswalt. Otherwise, a handful of above average starts — if reasonably priced — are worth pursuing if the replacement is average to below average.

  15. Gonzo says:

    I thought the Nats would be all over Oswalt. I’d be surprised if they don’t make a strong push for him if they don’t get Kuroda.

  16. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    I am not advocating a signing or not of Oswalt but if the Yankees are worried about his health, they should leave it up to the Medical team to review his medical record, including X-rays,CT scans, MRIs and whatever else is available. Then do a complete physical exam. They thus can emit an opinion of the extent of injuries if any and to the possibility of re-injury or durability during the season.

    • BK2ATL says:

      Randy Johnson ring a bell??? Back injuries are highly unpredictable and not worth the $8-10 million risk.

      No thanks on Oswalt for 2012. For 2004-2005, definitely.

      Next up on the rumor mill….

      • nsalem says:

        don’t forget Kevin Brown and Mr. Wells the second time around.

      • G says:

        We had Randy Johnson for 3 years, and that’s why he was a bit of a pain in the ass. However this would be on a one year deal. Even if he’s out for the season after a couple of starts what do we lose? $12 million? Teams with payrolls half the size of the Yankees can absorb that kind of bad contract for one year, the Yankees wouldn’t have to bat an eye. If he’s successful, great, we just temporarily solved our search for a #2 starter, and he rebuilds his value for a nice multiyear deal next offseason. If he’s not successful, then we are just back to where we are now and out what is to the Yankees essentially pocket change. If he bombs out, then we search around at the trade deadline. If we don’t sign him, we have to result to trades to make the upgrade we need. But if he does well, he’s a perfect stopgap for Manny and Dellin, and we get to keep all our prospects.

        It’s a low risk high reward signing. What’s stopping them?

  17. Steve (different one) says:

    Dump AJ, sign Oswalt, trade for Danks. Easier said than done obviously.

    • Jesse says:

      Then you have 6 starters. Who goes to the ‘pen?

      • Steve (different one) says:

        Guess it depends which Hughes shows up to camp. Hopefully he makes your decision simple by showing up ripped and throwing 93 mph. Otherwise I guess he goes to the pen or to AAA (does he have an option left?).

        • Jesse says:

          Well, he got off to his offseason program early this year, so I’d say it’s more likely he comes into camp pumping 93 on the gun and in good shape rather than coming into camp looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy. So if that happens, does Garcia go to the ‘pen instead?

      • G says:

        I don’t get the logic in signing Oswalt AND trading for Danks at all… The benefit of signing Oswalt is we don’t have to resort to dealing away prospects, nor do we have to rush them. Why would we sign Oswalt, only to turn around and throw away prospects?

  18. Bruce says:

    Kuroda is the obvious solution, but he’s no #2. Oswald has risk, but I think it would be worth it (not my checkbook, after all). Signing Oswalt would buy some time for the AAA guys – AND keep him away from the Red Sox. Even if he goes down and comes back like he did this year, there’s some quality innings there. I don’t think we need him to last all year. Just to the trade deadline – kind of like Colon this season.

    Speaking of which, Colon’s still another option. He ran out of gas this season, but he also built up his innings compared to the past three years. I don’t expect 200 innings (crazy, not stupid) from him, but if we could get more than this year and a little better quality at the tail end, that would buy the AAA guys some time, too.

  19. Nathan says:

    If they’ll take one year deals, I’d say take both.

    CC
    Oswalt
    Kuroda
    Nova
    Garcia

    I just have a feeling that out of Nova, Garcia and Hughes one of them will NOT be able to give a consistent 5 IP minimum every five games (my money is on Hughes).

    • Pasqua says:

      I agree. This year is shaping up to be a “Let’s see what happens” kind of season, so, why not? Give it a shot…it sure doesn’t make them worse, and they’re free and clear of Oswalt at the end of the year, regardless of the outcome.

  20. nsalem says:

    We will probably get a mid rotation starter and bring a couple of questionable arms in as with we did last year. Some may claim that our pitching success last year was due to luck but I believe much of the Yankee pitching success was the result of well thought out planning from the front office down to field management. I think and hope we will see the same this year with some low end acquisitions or young surprises. With our bullpen and offense, mid rotation types who can deliver a good amount of quality starts can be very successful on the type of team the Yankees are. I’m not concerned about our lack of the number 2 starter. A decent number three on another team can easily turn into a number 2 with this Yankee team they will have behind them.

    • G says:

      Yeah the front office planned everything out perfectly. They totally knew Colon would have an ERA under 3 for half the season, a non-prospect (Nova) would become a ROY candidate, and Freddy Garcia would be making a post-season start for them.

      It was luck. Sheer luck.

  21. Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost says:

    At very least no matter what happens Cashman has set some sort of precedent to demonstrate that the Yankees are not in on every deal and are not universally willing to throw money at available players. I really believe that we are not going to be making a big upgrade this offseason, and while I don’t love it because as a Yankee fan I’ve grown accustomed to a new big name each year, I understand it and even think it serves some utility in future negotiations.

    You want Yankee resources (money/prospects)? Come with realistic expectations or go pound sand. I kind of like that part of it.

    • WayneD says:

      RE: “You want Yankee resources (money/prospects)? Come with realistic expectations or go pound sand. I kind of like that part of it.”

      Excellent point. This is the only aspect of the Yankees’ inertia this off season about which I agree. In general, everyone seems to ask for far more from the Yankees in trades than they ask for from other teams.

      This off season, however, the asking price for virtually all starting pitchers has been insane. The Latos trade to the Reds is a good example: that deal seems insane on paper in terms of what the Reds gave up for him.

      Pitching is definitely at a premium this off season, which is why I think a one year deal for Oswalt makes a lot of sense.

  22. Pasqua says:

    From a distance, I think it’s safe to assume the Yanks are licking their chops for next year’s FA pitching class, as they have been hesitant to dive into this year’s pool of mediocrity. It is for that reason precisely that I would be in favor of giving Oswalt one year. If healthy, he would certainly improve the team’s championship chances. If unhealthy, the team turns to the current slate of pitchers (plus, maybe, somebody like Kuroda) and the only thing lost is a few million that the Yanks don’t seem too inclined to give to anybody else at this point. After the season – healthy or not – they say goodbye to Roy and turn their attention to the new blood on the market.

  23. Javierkei Pavagawa says:

    $8 mil, $10mil, I would take him for a one year deal. If he is healthy he totally has the potential to be dominant and that elusive #2. Please sign him. Nova 3. Garcia 4. Hughes/AJ/Noesi #5

  24. R.N.T. says:

    They should sign edwin jackson trade for a lefty like wandy gonzales and keep that bum that lost the playoffs for us freddy the choker in the bullpen for an exteme emergancy.also would be nice to see a serious left handed bat with power to take advantage of our short porch in right field.

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