Piggybacking on my don't-sign-Edwin Jackson entry from yesterday, I wonder if the Nationals had the same reaction I had when I heard the Phillies were rejecting the 2012 option on righthander Roy Oswalt's contract.
Oswalt is head-and-shoulders above Jackson in pitchability, and at 34, would seem to have a lot left in the tank. He made only 23 starts in 2011 due to a bulging disk, but still managed a very respectable 3.69 ERA. The back issue could be a problem, admittedly, but if he signs anywhere he'll be required to take a complete physical before the deal is done.
The biggest question about Oswalt at the moment, however, is does he really want to play anymore? Oswalt is a gentleman farmer back home in Mississippi, and may be ready to spend more time on the tractor after 11 seasons in the National League. If he does, maybe the prospect of joining a team on the way up to finish his career would be attractive. He may also have desires to return to the state of Texas, where I'm quite sure Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan would love to add him to the rotation.
I believe the Nationals would prefer a pitcher who's willing to sign more of a short-term deal; preferably two years, but three for the right guy. Oswalt, who's frequently talked of retirement, may very well be in that category. Given the impact someone with his experience could have on a young staff, as well as the immediate future of the franchise, I think a phone call to his agent may be in order.
The Nationals are well past the point of being anyone's fall-back position. Their 2011 season simply reinforced what many inside the game had been saying for the past year: They're competitive, and right on the cusp of what may very well be a multi-season run at the postseason. Money doesn't seem to be much of an issue.
Maybe Oswalt is the kind of guy for whom career stats mean little. He has 159 career wins, which won't get him a sniff at Cooperstown. As as starter, you really need to reach the 200 milestone before you're even in the conversation. He's never won a Cy Young Award, but has finished in the top five in voting five times. He's dominated the same way that Mike Mussina dominated: nothing flashy, just gets 'em out.
Oswalt doesn't seem to be the "I've-gotta-play-for-the-Yankees" type of player. A reunion with the Astros might be on the minds of some fans, but they're terrible at the moment and possibly headed for the American League. Roy likes to swing the bat, though he's more of a threat to bunt than hit a line drive to the gap.
If he indicates a desire to keep playing, he'll have no shortage of suitors. Hopefully, the Nationals will at least entertain the proposition.