Friday, July 23, 2010

Roy Oswalt and the Dodgers

It was about this time last year I started this blog about this same topic: The trade deadline and the Dodgers.

I made a post a couple weeks ago stating the Dodgers should do nothing come July 31 unless the player or players acquired were difference makers.

A report surfaced yesterday that Frank McCourt has given the OK to General Manager Ned Colletti to add payroll to try to improve the team.

I'm still skeptical of this news, but I'm going to run with it.

The Dodgers need a front-line starter more than anything. With Cliff Lee off the market, the Dodgers have effectively set their sights on Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt would likely be pitching for another team already if he didn't have $16 million guaranteed next year and a club option for 2012, also at $16 million (with a $2 million buyout) and a full no-trade clause.

It's said the Astros are looking for one Major League-ready player, two top-tier prospects and a second-tier prospect in exchange for the ace.

Now, just because McCourt is willing to add payroll doesn't mean the Dodgers are going to go crazy. For an Oswalt deal to get done, Houston would likely have to pick up a portion of Oswalt's remaining salary. Oswalt also is believed to want his 2012 option guaranteed before waiving his no-trade clause.

So what can the Dodgers do to acquire him? Let's look at the possibilities:

Houston has one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Its top prospect, Jason Castro, is a catcher, which benefits the Dodgers, as L.A. has no good catching prospects.

The Astro outfield is the deepest part of the team, with Carlos Lee (and his untradeable contract) in left, Michael Bourn (who looked a lot better last season than this season) in center and Hunter Pence (NL All-Star last season) in right. That, unfortunately, hurts the Dodgers, as L.A. has a lot of solid outfield prospects.

The Dodgers might be unwilling to give up Dee Gordon or Chris Withrow in a deal for Oswalt. However, if it's the difference in acquiring the No. 1 starter, it might be worth the price.

Who else might Houston be interested in?

RHP Allen Webster
LHP Aaron Miller
OF/1B Jerry Sands
RHP Ethan Martin
SS/2B Ivan De Jesus
RHP James McDonald
LHP Scott Elbert
RHP Chad Billingsley (though I highly doubt the Dodgers would include Billingsley)

Here are a couple of my trade scenarios for the Dodgers acquiring Oswalt:

To Dodgers: Oswalt, cash
To Astros: Gordon or Withrow, Sands, Elbert, OF Mario Songco/Jonathan Garcia

To Dodgers: Oswalt, cash
To Astros: Withrow, Sands, Elbert, De Jesus, Songco or Garcia

To Dodgers: Oswalt, cash
To Astros: Miller or Webster, Martin, Sands, De Jesus, Songco or Garcia

There's no doubt the Dodgers have the minor league talent to get a deal done. Gordon, Martin and Withrow cracked Baseball America's Midseason top 50 list. Sands is quickly establishing himself as one of the best power hitters in the minors, as he has 27 home runs in 329 at-bats, including nine in his first 86 at-bats in Double-A.

The Dodgers would have to give up young pitching to get the deal done, which could be a sticking point. Of course, the ultimate sticking point is money.

These scenarios can be used in a potential deal for Diamondbacks' ace Dan Haren, who is having an off year. Arizona has deal with the Dodgers in the past, so it's reasonable to expect they could strike a deal again.

Eight more days until the deadline. We'll see if the Dodgers can add the much-needed top-of-the-rotaiton starting pitcher.

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