Reds general manager on Roy Oswalt: “Last we heard he was going to Texas”

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Cincinnati is among the teams linked to Roy Oswalt, but general manager Walt Jocketty said yesterday that the Reds haven’t talked to the right-hander’s agent in a week and “the last we heard he was going to Texas.”

“That was on Monday,” Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I don’t know if that deal is still in place. If he doesn’t sign, we’d take another look at it.”

Fay reports that the Reds would need to clear significant payroll space in order to sign Oswalt and their rotation depth chart is also full, even if Aroldis Chapman is assigned to the bullpen. Fay speculates that Homer Bailey would be the most likely starter moved, although the Reds would obviously love to unload Bronson Arroyo’s contract if they could.

As for Jocketty hearing that Oswalt was going to Texas, the Rangers also have a full rotation and reports last week indicated that signing Oswalt was “unlikely.” Other teams said to be in the mix are the Red Sox, Phillies, and Cardinals, this late in the offseason he’s running into similar roster/payroll issues everywhere.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.