Earlier today, Roy Oswalt’s agent, Bob Garber, let it be known to several different media outlets that his client would be making a “big announcement.” After months of rumours, innuendo and speculation as to where Oswalt would be playing this coming season, it was widely expected that today’s “big announcement” would inform baseball fans of what team the right handed pitcher had settled on.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, treating Oswalt like he was John Dennis, informs us that the “big announcement” will actually be that the right handed pitcher will not be signing with anybody.

Oswalt, 34, has told teams that he plans to keep throwing, stay ready and would be willing to return during the season if nothing materializes before then. That approach would mirror what Clemens did in 2006 and 2007, when he returned in June to pitch for the Houston Astros and then the New York Yankees.

The unexpected move is probably a clever one for Oswalt.

Interested teams, like the Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, seemed reluctant to offer the type of dollar figure for which Oswalt was looking. This disparity was likely caused by two factors: 1) Oswalt’s persistent back problems from last year; and 2) the respective teams being content with the starting rotations that they already had in place.

Between 2004 and 2009, Oswalt made only two trips to the 15 day Disabled List. He equaled that total last season, missing 63 days due lower back strain and a cartilage injury. Taking some additional time off to recover from last season’s woes mitigates the risk that teams would take in signing a player who would certainly benefit from not having to go through the rigours of an entire season of Major League Baseball.

In addition, there’s little doubt in my mind that the contentment which many teams might feel for their starting rotations in February will fade by June into despair and paranoia, as injuries and failed expectations begin to take their toll. A competitive team would theoretically pay a pretty penny to add a starting pitcher of Oswalt’s quality without being forced into giving up a prospect or a player already on its Major League roster.

As Drew Fairservice showed us back in January, Oswalt hasn’t allowed a declining velocity on his fastball stop him from using it to get batters out. His change in approach combined with rest on the DL, allowed him to finish last season with an improved four seamer that collected whiffs at the same rate as vintage Oswalt.

With more rest and less demand on his fragile back, Oswalt will most likely prove to be a very good option at the season’s mid point. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he lands a contract in June for a similar amount of dollars to what he was being offered in February.

Comments (11)

  1. Great. Month of this.

  2. Bah, I don’t like when players do this in any sport. Either play the whole season or take the year off…hated when Clemons did it, hated when Sundin did it.

  3. If a multi-year deal for 2013 and beyond is his goal, it is hard to see how this strategy helps him move towards that goal… Sitting home for the next three months suggests that even Oswalt himself has some doubts that he is capable of putting together a full, healthy season. Coming back and pitching for only the second half of the season is not going to soothe those concerns and he will be in the same boat again next off-season.

    • If the best he could do was a $6 million offer for the whole season, might as well sit out the first half, rest up and see if that $6 million is still on the table when there’s more of a demand for your services. I don’t know that another contract is his motivation here as much as seeing that he can take half a year off and probably make just as much.

      • He was seeking a three year deal early in the off-season, but when nothing materialized, he indicated that he would be willing to accept a one-year deal so as to prove his health and rebuild his value.

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/12/oswalt-seeks-one-year-deal-interest-picks-up.html

        Maybe he can do almost as well financially in 2012 by taking one-half the season off (I doubt it, but I suppose it is possible), but it is not going to help him next off-season when he is again faced with short-term offers.

        • Wasn’t he offered more than $6 M this off-season though?

          Looks like he’s really set against pitching for a team that is not close to his ranch. He must really like his horses and cattle.

  4. Makes a lot of sense for Oswalt. It sucks for fans but can’t fault him for looking out for himself.

    I hope which ever team gets him at the mid-point does not make playoffs.

  5. Is there any way the pharmaceutical industry can come up with a pill that will calm Red Sox Nation following this announcement? Cherington is beginning to look like a tool for trading away a viable SS like Scutaro for essentially nothing.

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