Cardinals in the hunt for Oswalt, but will they take on his salary?

June 10, 2010 - Denver, Colorado, U.S. - MLB Baseball - Houston Astros pitcher ROY OSWALT throws during a 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

One day after reports surfaced that the Phillies were on the verge of acquiring Roy Oswalt via a trade, Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports hears that the Cardinals are now the front-runners for the Astros’ ace.

In fact, the Astros have been talking with Cardinals GM John Mozeliak for several days now, and Oswalt is quite amenable to go to St. Louis if the teams can agree on what players will head back to Houston. For their part, the Cardinals are convinced that matching Roy Oswalt up with Dave Duncan would take a guy who is already an ace and turn him back into the Cy Young candidate he was a few years ago. I’ll stop believing stuff like that when Dave Duncan actually fails for once. Which I wouldn’t bet on, frankly.

Of course, the big issue everyone has been talking about today has been Oswalt’s desire that his 2012 option be picked up. That’s $16 million, and that ain’t hay. My source tells me, however, that Oswalt would be willing to work with the Cardinals to make the option more palatable, possibly in terms of deferring some money. The sides aren’t quite that far yet.

The other issue is that the Cardinals’ farm system is tapped out, outside of top prospect Shelby Miller, who was the club’s first round pick in 2009.

Would St. Louis be willing to give up Miller and take on Oswalt’s salary? That’s a reach, especially considering Oswalt and Albert Pujols are each due to make $16 million in 2011, Matt Holliday is set to make $17 million, Chris Carpenter $15 million, Adam Wainwright $6.5 million and Kyle Lohse $11.9 million. That’s a lot of dough for six players and that doesn’t even include Ryan Ludwick, who is due a raise soon.

Speaking purely from a baseball standpoint, Oswalt makes every bit of sense for the Cardinals. But it’s a whole other story from a financial perspective.

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The five most (potentially) intriguing names on the MLB trade market

With the All-Star break quickly approaching, many MLB teams are trying to figure out whether or not they’ll be buyers or sellers later this month. It’s a tricky game front offices must play, because they don’t want to alienate their fans by suggesting that their club is already out of contention with half the season left to go, but teams also don’t want to miss out on adding a piece for the future because they’re hanging onto a veteran that won’t play a significant role down the line.

That said, I’ve compiled a ranking of the five most intriguing names that either are on the trade market, or could be. Granted, every player outside of guys named Pujols, Jeter and Howard could potentially be on the trade market, but I tried to keep the list to only those names that continue to pop up in the weekly rumor mill, whether their teams have officially those names as available or not.

Two names you won’t find on the list are Dan Haren and Jake Peavy, even though they have been brought up in various trade rumors. The Diamondbacks aren’t going to trade Haren unless some team offers a ridiculous package (as in multiple top prospects) and Peavy’s injury situation has all but killed his trade value. I would be shocked if either player gets dealt this season.

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Cardinals to go after Tejada?

According to a report by Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals have their eyes on Astros’ shortstop Miguel Tejada.

The Cardinals have expanded their search for an additional hitter to include Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada. Tejada fits the profile of what the Cardinals are seeking — an offensive deterrent capable of playing multiple positions. The Astros are experiencing financial problems and could part with a player owed $13 million this season. Tejada entered Wednesday leading the NL in batting with a .357 average and 21 doubles. He ranked third in the league with a .354 average against righthanded pitching. … Khalil Greene managed three hits Wednesday night in his second game on a rehab assignment with the Memphis Redbirds.

It’s amazing how the Cards are scrambling to add a shortstop after being excited about picking up Khalil Greene this offseason. When I interviewed Tony La Russa before the season regarding his “ARF” Foundation, he mentioned Greene’s name several times in reference to how St. Louis was glad to have him in their lineup. Greene has missed time due to “anxiety-related issues,” but maybe he can bounce back and St. Louis won’t have to make a move in the end.

Tejada has some tread on his tires, but the guy can obviously still hit. The Cards need to do something if they want to eventually separately themselves in a tight NL Central.

Cardinals searching for another bat to protect Albert Pujols

More specifically, Tony La Russa is searching for another bat to project Pujols:

“The No. 1 thing we can get is a guy to hit behind Albert [Pujols],” La Russa said. “That’s the No. 1 thing.”

And whereas in past years, such comments have sounded like an attempt to prod the Cardinals’ front office, on Thursday they had a different tone. La Russa spoke like a man who has expectations, rather than hopes. La Russa indicated that the club has some financial flexibility, and it’s clear that St. Louis has some young pitching to deal — especially relief pitching.
“It’s really hard to make a significant move,” La Russa said. “There aren’t many guys that fit what you’re looking for. I felt like last year they made an attempt. And since Day 1, we came into this year knowing we were a better ballclub than we thought last year at this time, and we’ve gotten off to a good start, but we know we’re thin.”

The most intriguing name that the Cards could eventually pursue would be A’s outfielder Matt Holliday.

Oakland currently resides at the bottom of the AL West standings and is 8.5 games back of Texas. Not that they’re completely out of contention, but GM Billy Beane could be looking to do one of his trademark deals soon with Holliday set to become a free agent at the end of the year. It’s not a matter of if Holliday will be dealt, but when.

Getting back to the Cards, I don’t know what they would have to give up to swing a deal for Holliday (and it’s not fair at this point to speculate), but adding him to their lineup might be the thing they need to create a cushion between them and the Brewers/Cubs in the NL Central. Of course, a healthy Chris Carpenter remains the biggest factor in how much success St. Louis will have this season, but landing Holliday could make them World Series contenders.

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