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Should the Red Sox Overpay for Roy Oswalt?


Finally, we are nearing the end of the Roy Oswalt drama that we have had to endure over the past 7 months.  According to Jon Heyman of, there is an expectation that Oswalt will sign with an MLB team this week.  Teams that are known to be involved are the Red Sox, Orioles, Phillies, Cardinals, Rangers and now the Dodgers, who offered Oswalt a contract yesterday according to Heyman.

The Rangers are deemed to be the favorites at this point and given Neftali Feliz is on the DL, the room for Oswalt in the rotation is there. The latest reports from Jerry Crasnick of ESPN have the Rangers the clear cut favorite and some baseball officials are convinced Oswalt will sign in Texas. Those same officials have said that Oswalt has given other teams the indication that he prefers the Rangers over everyone else for the obvious reasons; close to his Mississippi home and they are legitimate World Series contenders.  Sounds like a perfect marriage.

But lately we’ve heard the stumbling block with contract talks has been the high price that Oswalt and his agent have set.  The Rangers may be willing to overpay for Oswalt given the desire on both sides and as Crasnick reports, his source said it would take another club to grossly overpay for his services to convince him to sign elsewhere.

So should the Red Sox overpay for Roy Oswalt and try and convince him to come to Boston?

Short answer is no.  Actually, the long answer is still no and here’s why.

As many readers have commented, Oswalt has always pitched in the National League that is known for it’s less offensive lineups.  The AL East is one of the most potent and high powered offensive divisions in the game and fear that Oswalt would get shredded by the beastly bats is the biggest concern.

A second concern is his lingering back issues.  He appears to be in great shape right now but he isn’t incurring the everyday challenges that life in the big leagues present to one’s body. Rather he’s in the comfort of his own home and working out on his personalized schedule.  To overpay for a pitcher that has a history of back ailments would be foolish.  Which ties into the whole luxury tax threshold that the Red Sox are hell bent on getting under in the coming years.  Granted Oswalt will only sign a one-year deal but to get him for the remainder of this season would be a big hit against this year’s team payroll, further penalizing the Sox when they have to pay the piper for overspending.

Finally, do the Red Sox really need Oswalt in their rotation? Felix Doubront has been the most reliable starter for the Sox so to put him back in the bullpen would not make a whole lot of sense.  Daniel Bard on the other hand may be limiting his time as a starter if he continues to struggle with command alongside a drop in velocity on his fastball.  Bard to the bullpen makes the most sense but bringing Oswalt in only muddies the water as to what to do with Matsuzaka and Aaron Cook, both who could rejoin the club in the coming weeks.  Is it absurd to say that either Cook or Dice-K could be just as effective as Oswalt could be?  Sure neither of the current Sox injured pitchers have the track record that Oswalt has and when Roy is on he has lights out material.  But how many times would we see that in Boston with him if he were to sign here?  Once, maybe twice?  He’s going to be nursed into the rotation slowly, giving only 5-6 innings in his first handful of starts.  Bard is doing that now, albeit the walks are through the roof.

Clay Buchholz is one name that continues to be thrown around as an option to send to the minors, making room for another starter.  But he’s not going to be down their for the rest of the season and suddenly a rotation spot for him will be needed.

So let Oswalt sign in Texas and let them overpay for a 34-year old pitcher who’s best days are likely behind him.  Let the Rangers take a chance on his wonky back.  Better than the Red Sox again overpaying on a player only to have him sit on the DL and not get much value out of his contract.

Maybe Oswalt will produce where ever he signs and will prove me and the other doubters wrong.  I just don’t see how spending the kind of money he wants for three months of service is worth it.  Not when the Red Sox currently have their own rotation issues to sort through.