Roy Oswalt is reportedly close to choosing his new team and returning to the mound, and according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com the Rangers are heavy favorites to sign the 34-year-old right-hander.
In fact, an unnamed “baseball official” told Crasnick that he “would be shocked” if Oswalt doesn’t end up in Texas.
Along with the Rangers the Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Orioles, and Red Sox have also been linked to Oswalt, who threw 139 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 93/33 K/BB ratio for Philadelphia last season.
Neftali Feliz is on the disabled list and expected to be out until after the All-Star break with a sprained elbow and it’s possible that the Rangers could shift him back to the bullpen once healthy, creating a rotation spot for Oswalt. For now Scott Feldman is filling in for Feliz, joining Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, and Derek Holland in the rotation.
Ted Lilly’s shoulder injury may have magnified the Dodgers’ interest in Oswalt after watching him throw last week and if the Phillies get bad news on Roy Halladay’s shoulder it’s easy to envision them giving Oswalt a call for a reunion. Depending on which sources you choose to believe Oswalt’s primary motivation is pitching close to his Mississippi home, playing for a contender, or cashing in for the biggest contract. Or maybe some combination of all three, which seemingly also gives Texas the edge.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.