The latest on Oswalt

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There have been various updates and added wrinkles to the Roy Oswalt news since this morning. The highlights:

  • Derrick Goold reports that the Cardinals are the Astros’ first choice. This squares with what I was hearing last night. Past of it is geographic (Oswalt owns a farm in Illinois and it isn’t terrible far from his Mississippi home).  Part of it is clubhouse culture. Part of it is that Oswalt believes that the Cardinals represent is best chance to win a championship.
  • Heyman says that the Cardinals want the Astros to take on a good chunk of the money still owed Oswalt. I’m sure that’s what they want — who wouldn’t — but I have to think that at some point the Astros would think that, hell, if they’re paying for the guy they may as well get 200 quality innings out of the guy a year too, so why bother?
  • Brad Lidge volunteered that he would gladly call Oswalt in an effort to sell him on coming to Philly instead.  This is rather interesting. On the one hand, given all of the strife Lidge has gone through in Philly these past two seasons, if he can still endorse the city and the club to Oswalt, it speaks highly of the place and maybe Oswalt should listen. On the other hand, the more Lidge reminds Oswalt that Lidge will be responsible for closing out Oswalt’s starts, the less attractive such a prospect becomes, no?
  • Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Cardinals have offered two players from their major league roster for the Astros ace.  In other words, not top pitching prospect Shelby Miller.  Jon Jay, Allen Craig and Fernando Salas are among the likely suspects.

It’s all pretty quiet on the non-Oswalt trade rumor front today, so look for more updates to this one as events warrant.

Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:

Rays and Braves reportedly interested in Welington Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI double in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.

The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.

Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.