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.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.