There are two reasons for this: Roy Oswalt is old and Roy Oswalt isn’t exactly healthy. Back issues limited him to just 139 innings this year, after pitching at least 200 innings in every season since 2004, save for a mark of “only” 181 in 2009. It’s also worth noting that the Phillies hold a club option on Oswalt. However, it’s a $16M option with a $2M buyout. As of last week, the organization was still discussing whether or not to pick up the option. If I were to bet on it, I’d bet on them not picking the option up and buying Oswalt out. If they do, should the Yankees give him a look?
Performance wise, there really isn’t much to complain about. His strikeout rate dropped a bit this year, but he still displayed good control and kept the ball inside the park. His peripherals have stayed pretty solid, though his xFIP did shoot up to 3.95 this year (103 xFIP-). There has, however, been a steady decline in his fastball velocity, which is unsettling, especially considering Oswalt’s advanced age. Despite that loss of velocity, Oswalt’s fastball was still 0.69 runs above average per every 100 fastballs, not far off from his career mark of 0.73 RAA/100 fastballs. For the second year in a row, and the third time in four years, Oswalt’s groundball percentage was above 45%. So, even with a loss in zip on his fastball, Oswalt managed to be effective in his time on the hill.
Health is the obviously the biggest issue with Oswalt. Back in June, he talked about his back issues possibly ending his career. And, as of the September 29th rankings, Oswalt projects as a Type-A. If he’s offered arbitration, he’ll cost the team a draft pick if they sign him. But, I wouldn’t expect the Phillies to offer him arbitration. If they aren’t going to pick up his option, why bother offering him arbitration?
So if he’s available, should the Yankees sign Roy Oswalt? Maybe. By no means should he be plan A or even plan B or C. Though he’s performed well–and consistently–for a while now, his back health is probably enough to scare teams off. Though it’s what I’d offer, I doubt Oswalt would go for a one year deal with a decent base ($9-11M?) and a chance to make some more based on innings thresholds. I might not hate a two year deal (2/$20?), but I think Oswalt could still do better financially elsewhere. I’m more inclined to take a risk on C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish, but Oswalt could definitely make sense if other options fall through. Let’s keep an eye on him.
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