The Padres Can Afford Roy Oswalt


According to Buster Olney of ESPN, Roy Oswalt may be willing to sign a one-year deal worth about $8 million.  That’s $500,000 less than what the Padres paid for their closer, Huston Street.  While the team seems to be all set heading into Spring Training, surely they could use Roy Oswalt, right?  Surely Roy Oswalt could use the Padres too, right?

A few weeks ago, I posed the question to Chicken Friars readers whether or not the team should pursue Roy Oswalt if they could get him for contract of $9 million or less.  68% of you said the team should go after him.  How about now, if he’s only asking for $8 million?  The Padres still have some cash to spend* if they wanted to (although I’m sure they are trying to hold some back in order to sign contract extensions), and Oswalt would be a bargain at $8 million for a year.

*With the sale of the team delayed by Major League Baseball, it’s unclear what effect that will have on the team’s ability to spend much more money.  My guess is it will have very little effect, but you never know. 

The Padres are on the brink of putting together a young, home-grown team.  They have been trading and drafting prospects to help build for the future.  And now, the future is dangerously close.  But what’s the harm in trying to win in 2012 as well?  If the team can still get contracts for Cameron Maybin, Nick Hundley, and Chase Headley extended, why not spend every cent they have to spend this season?

Roy Oswalt could be the Padres ace in a rotation that has the potential to be one of the best in baseball.  He could help lead the Padres, and their ever-so-slightly improved offense, to the postseason for the third time since moving to Petco Park.  Although Oswalt put up the second highest ERA of his career last season (3.69), he would surely see that number decrease in San Diego.  His park adjusted ERA+ for his career is 133.  All said, Oswalt could provide the Padres a huge lift in 2012.

And he should want to pitch in San Diego as well.  Injuries have plagued Oswalt’s last few seasons, but he is not done pitching.  He is 34 years old, and pitchers have been steadily proving they can pitch into their late 30’s and still contribute.  Oswalt is fishing for his 2013 contract in 2012.  If he were to let the Padres be the bait, it could be a win-win for both sides.  Bill James predicts a 3.46 ERA for Oswalt in 2012.  That prediction is based on his time with the Phillies who play in a hitter’s park.

At $8 million  year, Oswalt could easily outperform his cost.  If he puts up 2 WAR, he will have outperformed his cost.  Even if he puts up the 1.7 he managed in Philadelphia last season, he will have out performed his cost or come very close.  Obviously, the Padres could sign Oswalt and still not compete.  Then what?  Then they trade him.

If the Padres were to sign Oswalt in an attempt to pair him with another higher-priced veteran in Carlos Quentin for a run to the play-offs, the team would still be able to safe guard themselves against wasting their money.  If the team were to fall out of contention by July, they could easily flip Oswalt for moderate gains on the trade market.  Of course, this assumes that Oswalt remains healthy.  He only pitched in 23 games last year, the second lowest of his career.

It’s a gamble most Padres fans would want to see the team take.  There are no guarantees with the future.  I like the direction the team is going, but this seems like an incredibly low-risk/high-reward move.  The team should be competitive next season, but with Oswalt, they could be a threat to win the division.

All for the low, low price of $8 million.