The rich get richer: AL-leading Rangers sign Roy Oswalt

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Reports all day have said Roy Oswalt was close to choosing a new team and the Rangers were heavy favorites, and now Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas has indeed signed the 34-year-old free agent.

Fraley quotes “an individual familiar with the process” as saying it’s a done deal.

Oswalt has been linked to the Rangers, Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Orioles, and Red Sox, but Texas gives him the best possible combination of a sure-fire contender, a locale close to his Mississippi home, and (presumably) the most money.

Oswalt gained leverage in recent days with Roy Halladay and Ted Lilly landing on the disabled list with shoulder injuries, and if he’s indeed signing with the Rangers he’ll step into the rotation spot created by Neftali Feliz’s sprained elbow. It’s unclear how much time Oswalt will need to be game-ready, but Feliz is expected to miss the remainder of the first half and could shift back to the bullpen once healthy.

For now Scott Feldman is filling in for Feliz, but Oswalt threw 139 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 93/33 K/BB ratio for the Phillies last season and if he can avoid a recurrence of back problems would be a major upgrade over Feldman.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com confirms Fraley’s initial report and says Oswalt’s deal is worth between $5 million and $6 million.

The Manny Machado deal was done days before it was actually announced

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Last week as the Manny Machado trade drama was playing out, I and a lot of other people suspected as early as Monday and into Tuesday morning that the Orioles already had a deal in place for Machado and that they were just keeping it under wraps in order to get through the All-Star break (a) without any awkwardness; and (b) with the Orioles still having an All-Star representative. It would be Wednesday morning before the Orioles would make it official.

Turns out we were wrong. Machado was actually traded before Monday morning. Basically anyway, with the Orioles going so far as to pull him out of last Sunday’s game early because of it. And, of course, they lied about it. From Bob Nightengale of USA Today who spoke with Machado following his debut weekend with the Dodgers:

It was a week ago Sunday when Machado homered for the 24th time this season, the Orioles playing the final game of the first half against the Texas Rangers, when he was removed after the fourth inning after a 26-minute rain delay.

The Orioles told reporters after the game it was simply for precaution, making sure Machado didn’t get hurt playing on a wet field.

They may have fibbed to everyone else, but they told Machado the truth.

“That’s when they had told me I had been traded,’’ Machado said. “They said they pretty much had a deal done. They just wanted to wait until after the break to get all of the medical stuff done.

That didn’t stop all of the usual rumor-mongering reporters from tweeting stuff about this or that team “being in the race” or “taking the lead” or three or four teams in the “debry” or “sweepstakes” as it entered “the home stretch.” A bunch of track announcers calling a race that wasn’t even being run.

In the final analysis this is all benign. Teams lie about stuff all the time and a day or two in either direction made no difference to anyone involved. Still, it says a lot about how the trade rumor business works.