Does Roy Oswalt Make Sense For The Washington Nationals?

The Philadelphia Phillies declined the 2012 option for 34-year-old right-hander Roy Oswalt, paying him $2M in a buyout rather than the $16 million the former Astros' starter would have earned in the option year on the end of the 5-year/$73 million dollar deal he signed with Houston in 2007. Oswalt finished the 2011 season, (his first full-season in Philadelphia following a July 2010 trade from the Astros to the Phillies in exchange for 21-year-old LHP Anthony Gose, 20-year-old IF/OF Jonathan Villar and 28-year-old LHP J.A. Happ), with a 3.69 ERA, 3.44 FIP (up from 2.76/3.27 in 2010), a career-low 6.02 K/9 (down from 8.21 in 2010, 7.35 K/9 career) and his lowest start and inning totals since 2003. 

Though Oswalt's a Type-A Free Agent, the speculation (from MLBTraderumors and Philly.com at least) is that the Phillies won't offer arbitration so he won't cost the team that signs him a pick in the 2012 Draft.

Oswalt took two trips to the DL in his 11th major league season in 2011, dealing with back issues which have scared away some potential suitors. "He reportedly has two degenerative discs in his lower back," ESPN NewYork's Wallace Matthews wrote recently in explaining why sources were saying the Yankees weren't interested, and though he hasn't had surgery, the writer noted that he has had cortisone shots in the past and he spent six weeks on the DL last season, resulting in the low inning and start totals.

Oswalt brushed off talk of the back problems forcing him into retirement at the end of the season, with his agent, Bob Garber, telling MLB.com's Todd Zolecki in a September 2011 article entitled, "Agent: Oswalt not contemplating retirement", that the right-hander, "... has been rejuvenated pitching for the first-place Phillies and is feeling healthy after an ailing back sidelined him." Oswalt's agent also told FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi, in an article earlier this month entitled, "Agent: Oswalt plans to pitch in 2012", that his client's, "... back feels great,'" and, "'He’s definitely looking for a long-term contract.'"

Mr. Morosi's colleague at FOXSports.com, Ken Rosenthal, wrote this morning, in an article entitled, "Notebook: Oswalt looking good; Pap, too", that "major league sources" were telling him that, "The Nationals plan a major push for free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt, viewing him as the perfect veteran complement to Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang." MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported last week that Washington was interested in Oswalt. 

Even after signing Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal for 2012, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told reporters last week that the Nationals were still interested in acquiring a veteran pitcher, preferably one, "...who has thrown a lot of innings, that has shown that he can win in the big leagues and [can] really lead our staff, not just by having the best stuff on the staff but by showing how to be a professional and how to be a winner and how to pitch 200 innings in a season many, many times in your career." 

MLB.com's Bill Ladson's sources told him simply that the Nationals had "expressed interest." FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says they plan on making a "major push" for Oswalt. Oswalt fits the description of what the Nationals are looking for, but health-wise is he a good investment for the Nats? And a long-term deal? 

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