Philly made it official, declining the 16 million dollar option on Roy Oswalt's option. With arbitration being extremely unlikely to get the Phillies the deal they want, Oswalt is going to be the free-est of the free agents, one that can be signed without losing any draft picks. That's a big bonus for draft pick loving Mike Rizzo. But there's more to Oswalt than just a typical free agent.
Oswalt has long made it clear the baseball life isn't really for him. He said before his last deal that he could very well retire when this contract is up, and every reporter seems to believe he's serious. This talk, and his last contract, make everyone believe that his next deal, if ithere is one, will be of the one or two year variety. That type of short-term investement and the lack of draft pick compensation would make him very attractive to the Nats... and everyone else. Oswalt will most likely get to pick and choose his next spot from a dozen suitors. Philadelphia could be it, but why take less money to throw in a hitters park, a long way from home, for a team possibly looking at an off year? It seems unlikely that he'll be back to me.
But pick and choose doesn't exactly bode well for the Nats. They should be good next year but can they guarantee a playoff spot? Is DC any practical distance closer to Mississippi than Philly? Texas, Atlanta, and St. Louis all could offer closer locations to home and arguably better shots at the playoffs. If he can't be wowed by the money then I just don't see Washington winning the bidding war for him.
Do the Nats even want Oswalt? Yes they do. The narrative of the season is a little alarming. The drop in K-rate (6.02 K/9 this year - 7.35 career) and the overwhelming reliance on his change (up from 15% of his pitches last year to 19% last year) rather than his breaking stuff (down from 29% to 20%) says "pitcher on the decline". But this narrative is misleading. First off everything else remained stable. He was walking the same, giving up the same type of hits. Sure his HR/FB ratio was a little lucky (0.65 this year, 0.75 career) but the BABIP he had was a little unlucky (.316 , .296). Nothing else says decline. More importantly, if you look at his splits before and after injury, you can see that the back was bringing him down. He was at 15% breaking stuff and a 5.3 K/9 when he went out. He came back and pitched more in line with what you'd expect from Oswalt.
Roy Oswalt going to pitch well. If healthy, he could be great. If like this year, he's still good. As a one or two year gamble, any team would do well to pick up Oswalt. I don't see it being the Nats.