Red Sox, Reds, Rangers, Cardinals all downplaying interest in Roy Oswalt

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Roy Oswalt remains linked to a handful of teams, but seemingly no one wants to admit that they’re actually close to signing him.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said yesterday that he hadn’t talked to Oswalt’s agent in a week, only to have Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com report that they were indeed “still in talks.”

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox have “no traction” in negotiations with Oswalt and Boston signing him “doesn’t seem likely at this point.”

Similarly, according to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak the veteran right-hander ending up in St. Louis is unlikely in no small part because they’d have to shed significant payroll to add him and already have a full rotation.

Other potential suitors include the Rangers and Phillies, but Texas has downplayed its interest in Oswalt and Philadelphia would seemingly have to find a taker for Joe Blanton and his $8.5 million salary before possibly re-signing Oswalt.

He’s going to end up with a contender, mostly likely on a sizable one-year deal, but in the meantime there’s a pretty interesting little game of public statement chicken going on.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.