Lance Berkman made headlines last week for saying he’d be open to a trade and suggesting the Astros would be smart to deal him, and yesterday Roy Oswalt joined him in publicly saying he’d be open to a move.
Oswalt said during an interview with MLB Network Radio that he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause for a move to a “true contender” and, like Berkman, explained why the Astros would be smart to pursue a deal.
When you get to a point where you need to start rebuilding they’re going to start with a guy that’s got a lot of value and I understand that if I’m throwing well that they maybe can get two or three guys that can fill holes that they need.
Obviously the Astros aren’t going to get as much in return for Berkman and Oswalt as they would have, say, two years ago, but whatever they do get back will almost surely help jumpstart the rebuilding process more than a 32-year-old and a 34-year-old. Oswalt has a 2.63 ERA in seven starts and Berkman is hitting well again following knee surgery, so general manager Ed Wade should be working the phones pretty hard.
Oswalt makes $15 million this season and $16 million next season, with a $16 million option or $2 million buyout for 2012. Berkman makes $14.5 million this season with a $15 million option or $2 million buyout for 2011.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.