Oswalt may be headed south in locale & dollars
Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:01 am
Edited on: January 28, 2012 1:31 am
Longtime pitching star Roy Oswalt, who seems to have very strong geographic leanings, turned down a very large one-year offer of about $10 million from the Detroit Tigers, sources told CBSSports.com, and Oswalt is instead eyeing several other teams, most of them much closer to his southern roots, including the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Oswalt's main criteria seems to be proximity to his home in Mississippi. Other teams said to be in the running include the Red Sox and Nationals, but indications are that he prefers the Rangers and Cardinals. Above all else, the locale seems to be the key to him as his decision nears. Otherwise, how to explain the out-and-out rejection of the powerhouse Tigers?
The issue seems to be that the two teams he seems to most prefer -- the Rangers and Cardinals -- aren't perfect fits. Neither currently has an opening for a starting pitcher, though it's possible either team might try to make one for him. One report, from @Jim_Duquette, suggested the Cardinals are the frontrunner.
One thing is certain, and that is that he won't be a Tiger. Detroit's offer, which was made well before they came out of nowhere to sign Prince Fielder to a $214-million, nine-year deal, is no longer on the table.
Though Oswalt's agent Bob Garber denied it, one other person familiar with the Tigers' discussions with regarding said Oswalt declined to accept Detroit's offer of about $10-million after it met Garber's asking price. That person said Garber requested $10 million, but after Tigers owner Mike Ilitch signed off on the $10 million, Garber later informed Detroit that Oswalt was not prepared to take the offer. Garber denied by text that he had asked for $10 million, saying, "I never gave the Tigers a number.''
Garber added that Oswalt has "his top three (teams) he's still focused on.''
He didn't name the three teams. But it's hard to bet on the Red Sox, who like Detroit is in the north, and what's more, are believed to have offered nothing close to the $10 million Tigers bid (the belief is that Boston's offer is closer to $5 million).
Texas and St. Louis seem more likely at this point. The Rangers, who already have six viable starters, would insist he take their price, which would presumably be less than even Boston's price. Nolan Ryan and pitching coach Mike Maddux are both Oswalt fans (Ryan like Oswalt was an Astros star and knows him well) so they may do it if he'd take a fraction of the $10 million he turned down.
The Cardinals don't have an overwhelming need for another starter, either. But St. Louis has talked to both him and another free agent, Edwin Jackson.
The Astros, his former team, were mentioned as a possibility in one report. And they certainly would fit his geographic preferences. But that report was denied by someone close to Oswalt.
Oswalt has such strong ties to his home area that he left the Phillies last year for eight days after his hometown was wracked by a hurricane even though his own home didn't suffer significant damage. Oswalt, who also battled back trouble last year, at one point last year ruminated about retirement last year.
Had he done so, he would have missed one of the most interesting free-agent plays in recent memory.