If you believe what Jim Bowden says on Twitter, the Angels might have become the front runner to sign free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt. Clearly Bowden has better sources than me since he was a General Managers as recently as 2009 and works for ESPN and I only know the third base security guard at Turner Field. He doesn’t return my calls anymore. So there might be some fire behind Bowden’s smoke but Angels GM Jerry Dipoto sure won’t own up to it…
“I can’t qualify for everything you hear,” Dipoto said. “But I can say that we’re quite happy with the way our starting pitchers have thrown this spring and the way they’ve developed. You never have enough pitching, so it’s tough for me to say that there’s not a time in this season where our situation may not change, but right now, we’re very happy with where our pitching is.”
This is the same General Manager who downplayed the Angels interest in Albert Pujols too. The Angels could use some starting pitching depth. Jerome Williams hasn’t made his Cactus League debut as of Monday, Garrett Richards is a top prospect but unproven and Brad Mills is Brad Mills. The Angels did recently sign David Pauley and plan to stretch him out in the minors. So, there’s that.
The 34-year-old Oswalt was 22 on Keith Law’s Top 50 Free Agent List (Insider) but the market for the right hander seems to be dwindling. The Cardinals, Rangers and Red Sox have been tied to the rumor mill surrounding Oswalt but this is the first we’ve heard about the Halos.
Oswalt has accumulated a 50.2 fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) over his 11-year career which would get him elected in to the Hall of Very Good. But the injuries and age are catching up with him. Oswalt pitched 139.0 innings for the Phillies in 2011 with a 3.69 ERA, 3.44 FIP (fielding independent pitching) and 3.95 xFIP (expected fielding independent fielding). As Law points out, Oswalt has No. 2 starter upside if his health allows him to live at 92-93 MPH again.
Considering the Angels would only need Oswalt to contribute fifth starter innings, I think he’d be a steal for what it might cost to sign him. Actually, I think any team that signs him is going to get a steal. The original thought around baseball was that Oswalt only wanted to pitch close to his Mississippi home but that mindset has changed. Oswalt might even be open to a midseason return.
The Angels should think long and hard about signing Oswalt to solidify their position atop the rotation ranks. As Dipoto put it, you never have enough pitching. Williams could be a good number six starter while Richards gets a little more minor league seasoning.
Ruling: Oswalt is a fit. Sign him. Then invent some four pound sushi dish to sell at The Big A to cover the cost. Call it the Oswashimi. That one is free, Angels. *adds problem solver to resume*