Phillies' trade winds shift

Houston's Roy Oswalt is available, but he would cost the Phillies prospects. J.A. Happ could be in the mix, a source said.
Houston's Roy Oswalt is available, but he would cost the Phillies prospects. J.A. Happ could be in the mix, a source said.
Posted: July 29, 2010

Jayson Werth ran out of the dugout and went immediately toward Domonic Brown. The two embraced, slapped hands twice and laughed.

It was an innocent exchange, yet so unexpected. In the days leading up to Brown's promotion, the only way the Phillies' top prospect could have joined the team seemed to be if Werth was dealt away. Even in spring training, Werth would often joke about Brown as "the guy who is going to replace me."

It turns out that didn't have to be the case - at least not for now.

Shane Victorino's left abdominal strain could keep him out for three weeks. It prompted the Phillies to promote Brown and almost certainly will prevent them from trading Werth, who can be a free agent after this season.

The Phillies want to acquire Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt. But to do that, they would have to take on a considerable amount of salary. Oswalt is due the remainder of his $15 million salary this season, $16 million in 2011, and has a club option for $16 million in 2012. Baseball sources have said Oswalt will want some sort of guarantee that he is paid the full club option - even if the money has to be deferred.

But now, since Werth is not likely to be traded, the Phillies would have to take on the additional payroll in an Oswalt deal and also surrender some of their prospects. Originally, the Phils had thought they could deal Werth to another contender for prospects, then flip those prospects in a deal for Oswalt.

Does Cliff Lee ring a bell? During the off-season, the Phillies had the chance to keep Lee and his $9 million salary for 2010 but decided that the franchise needed to shed payroll in favor of adding prospects because, as general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, "the cupboard was bare."

Now the Phillies face the possibility of adding money and losing prospects.

Any deal for Oswalt will likely involve lefthander J.A. Happ, a baseball source said. Beyond that, the Phillies would likely have to trade some of the burgeoning talent at the lower levels of their minor-league system to make a deal work.

Of course, beyond agreeing to a compensation package with the Astros, there is the matter of Oswalt's full no-trade clause. But Oswalt has publicly said he will accept a trade to an East Coast team if the deal works for both sides.

Astros owner Drayton McLane told the Houston Chronicle Wednesday that he is increasingly pessimistic about a deal happening.

"I'd say it's about 60 percent that something could be done and 40 percent that Roy will be here next year," McLane told the newspaper.

Oswalt told reporters that he has yet to be presented with a trade proposal and wants time to mull a potential deal if he eventually is.

"I'm hoping I'm not going to get it dropped on me an hour before deadline to give me a little bit of time to think about it, but I think it will work out," Oswalt said.

The Chronicle reported that the St. Louis Cardinals, once thought to be favorites to land Oswalt, are now long shots.

Complicating things even further is the fact that Oswalt is scheduled to start Friday for the Astros. The deadline is Saturday at 4 p.m.

Between now and then, demands could change and concessions are possible.


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/magelb.

Staff writer Bob Brookover contributed to this article.

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