Think the Phillies are on the verge of acquiring Roy Oswalt?
Think again, reports Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports.
The St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly in the lead for Oswalt's services, and are inching closer to a deal. Oswalt would be open to heading to the Cardinals, but would prefer if his 2012 team option was exercised. He is amenable to deferring some salary in that $16 million option, but it is difficult to imagine Oswalt agreeing to head to St. Louis without the option exercised.
That's because, when Oswalt signed his original deal with Houston, he agreed to make 2012 a team option as long as he received a full no-trade clause to ensure he stayed in Houston.
The Cardinals, for their part, are in "win-now" mode with Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter headlining a quality roster. One curioyus aspect of chasing Oswalt is that the Cardinals are trying to free up as much money as possible to make a major push to extend Pujols once his deal expires after 2011. Picking up Oswalt's deal, on top of having Matt Holliday's contract, would make it difficult for the Cardinals to both sign Pujols to a massive deal and field a quality ballclub around the three.
Meanwhile, the Phillies are without two starting pitchers and are talking about dealing Jayson Werth in a companion deal for either Oswalt or another starting pitcher. The market for Oswalt is heating up, but it's anyone's guess if he actually exits Texas.
-- Evan Brunell
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.