DONE DEAL: Oswalt goes to Philadelphia for Happ, two prospects

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Roy Oswalt has waived his no trade clause and has agreed to go to the Phillies.  The prospects have been agreed upon.  The money has been too. This deal is done.  The Phillies just got much, much better. The Astros basically dumped salary.

The Phillies won’t be giving up much in this deal: starting pitcher J.A. Happ and prospects Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose.  The Astros are sending Philly Oswalt and $11 million cash.  The Phillies will not be guaranteeing Oswalt’s 2012 option. Instead, the Phillies have agreed to raise the buyout of that option from $1 million to $2 million.

Villar is a 19 year-old shortstop prospect currently hitting .272/.332/.358 in the Sally League.  Unless there’s a misprint on his Baseball-Reference.com page,
he has [gulp] 42 errors this season.  Gose, an outfielder, turns 20 on August 10th. He’s currently hitting .263/.325/.385 in
high-A ball. Which is basically what he did over the last two years in
Rookie and low-A.  He’s apparently fast — he stole over 70 bases last
season — but this year he’s been caught 27 times against 36 steals. That’s not good.  Though they could each bloom later, at present, neither Villar nor Gose project to be fabulous major leaguers.

This deal is a coup for the Phillies.  They got a starter who would slot in as a number one on a great many teams and they got him for very little, both in terms of money and in terms of talent.  Happ is a decent pitcher, but he’s certainly not a special talent. He’s a fly ball-prone lefty who, in Houston, will give up an awful lot of home runs into the Crawford Boxes. Gose and Villar are not special talents. 

The Phillies have dug themselves a bit of a hole in the NL East, but they’ve been climbing out of it slowly but surely over the past week.  Getting Roy Oswalt just gave them a big boost.  If they make the postseason, the 1-2-3 of Roy Halladay, Oswalt and Cole Hamels will be the toughest in the National League.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.