Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wont comment on a report that his club has scouted free-agent righthander Roy Oswalt.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies recently had a scout watch Oswalt throw. A baseball source confirmed that the Phils did indeed watch Oswalt throw.
Is it possible that Oswalt could return to the Phillies?
Sure it is.
Is it probable?
Thats tougher to answer.
The Phillies trip to see Oswalt smacks of a front office that is known for practicing due diligence doing just that. Amaro, like Pat Gillick before him, is an executive who believes in considering anything and everything and gathering as much fresh information as possible. If Babe Ruth rose from the dead and wanted to audition for clubs, you can bet Amaro would send a scout to see him take BP. And if Oswalt says hes ready to throw, you can bet the Phillies would take a look just so they can have fresh reports in case a need arises.
As of right now, it does not appear that the Phils have a need for Oswalt, though that could change if Vance Worley does not make it back from the disabled list quickly. Things could also change if the Phils decide to package Joe Blanton in a deal for bullpen and oroffensive help.
But none of this would ensure that Oswalt, who turns 35 in August, would choose the Phillies. He has expressed a desire to pitch close to his Mississippi home. Texas and St. Louis have long been atop his list of preferred destinations, but its not clear if those teams will engage. Atlanta would be an intriguing possibility if it got involved. All of these places are closer to Oswalts home than Philadelphia.
And speaking of Philadelphia, one has to wonder if Oswalt would really want to come back. Lets face it. He did not look like a guy whose heart was in Philadelphia last year. Maybe his mind was at home, with his family, in tornado-torn Mississippi. That was certainly understandable early in the season. Maybe his back problems left him a little detached. Whatever the case, Oswalt always looked like he had one foot out the door in Philadelphia. In fact, his lightning quick exit from the clubhouse after the Phils were eliminated by St. Louis in Game 5 of the NLDS resembled a jail break and did not sit well with some teammates who were distraught after the loss.
There are other reasons to wonder if an Oswalt reunion would really happen.
One is his health. The Phillies know all too well how quickly his back can act up.
And, finally, theres the matter of money. While signing a free-agent like Oswalt would allow the Phillies to add without subtracting talent from their minor-league system, it is reasonable to wonder if theyd be willing to push their payroll any higher. The Phils opened the season with the majors second-highest payroll 174 million and will be pushing the 178 million luxury-tax threshold. Club officials have frequently expressed a desire to stay under the tax line. Its not clear how much it would take to sign Oswalt, but 5 million to 7 million seems like a reasonable estimate. A team like Boston, much more in need of starting pitching than the Phillies, might be more likely to meet Oswalts price.
Yeah, the Phillies took a look at Roy Oswalt. But his return to the club is far from a sure bet.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com