Normally when you a see top tier trade target you can take the Twins out of the running, so when Roy Oswalt decided to declare his eligibility on the trade market (much to Houston's chagrin, I'm sure) it took me awhile to realize that we might actually have interest.
The Twins have set the standard high this year -- making sweeping moves in the offseason, locking up the best player in baseball to a record contract, and matching those moves with solid upper echelon play on the field.
The only thing lacking? A legitimate ace. Liriano could be that ace if he keeps that magic alive and forgets his last few starts, but it's not so often you see someone of Oswalt's caliber waiting to fall into your lap.
I could get into all sorts of stats that show that despite entering his mid-thirties he's still a better starter than anyone on our staff, but Gleeman is much better to read in that regard. Let me just sum up a few thoughts:
- Salary. We've committed a lot of money to the team we have and Oswalt's owed a good chunk of money this year and next. Sure, the front office has been willing to spend this offseason for a contender, but how much is too much? If we acquire Oswalt we could be stretching our budget at the seams, and that always leads to disappointment and payroll shedding.
- Who does he replace? Slowey's been a little ineffective this season but do you give up on him when we all know how good he can be? If not Slowey, I don't think that Pavano, Baker, Liriano, or Blackburn have done anything to justify demotion. Perhaps his acquisition would simply bump Slowey or Blackburn into something of a long-relief role in the 'pen? I suppose too many starters is a good thing but you still have to answer who doesn't take the mound every fifth day.
- What do we have to give up? I don't think Oswalt will command a king's ransom, but he won't be cheap either. Houston's top prospect is a catcher so I doubt Wilson Ramos becomes a trade chip. So what other top prospects do we build a trade around? I don't think anyone wants to put Kyle Gibson in a package, that would be shortsighted. Is Ben Revere blue-chip enough? Maybe something like Ben Revere, Alex Burnett and Jeff Manship? Or maybe Bromberg and Revere? Whoever we give up for Oswalt is going to hurt and it's going to be a risk. There's no way we send them Luke Hughes and Drew Butera...
- He's durable and effective. Last year was a little bit of an off year for him, but other than that you could bank on 30 starts, 200 innings, and a respectable ERA, WHIP, and K/BB ratio. That's the kind of pitcher every team wants and someone I'm sure we would to.
- He'd be our ace. That would take a ton of pressure off Liriano, who everyone still looks to this year to carry this rotation. If Oswalt is here to take some of that pressure off, perhaps Liriano can find his groove with a little less spotlight shining on him.
- He legitimizes us. I think every national writer loves the Twins but remarks on how we don't have any established stud in our rotation yet. Oswalt being a Twin changes all of that, and we suddenly become a team that goes toe-to-toe with anyone in a short postseason series.
- He could also take Peavy out drinking whenever we face the White Sox and perhaps get him in trouble...
All that being said, I think there's legitimate reason to pursue Oswalt if the price is right. I actually wouldn't be surprised this year if we winds up in a Twins uniform, but I don't think I'd be heartbroken if he doesn't land with us.