Trading within the division: Advantageous or to be avoided?

July 18, 2010 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America - 18 July 2010: Houston Astros starting pitcher Roy Oswalt (44) delivers a pitch to the plate during the National League game between the Houston Astros and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates Paul Maholm.

While things change by the hour around this time of year, the latest trade rumors involving Roy Oswalt have him eventually landing in St. Louis. And based on recent reports, it sounds as if he wouldn’t mind wearing red and white at some point this season either. (Who could blame him? He pitches for the Astros, who dodge being the butt of jokes only because the Pirates have yet to climb out of the suckhole they fell into during the early 90s.)

Money (he’s owed $16 mil next season) and compensation (the Cards may have to part with top prospect Shelby Miller) remain the biggest hurdles in any trade involving Oswalt and the Cardinals, but the question of whether or not teams should trade within their division is relevant in this scenario as well.

Should teams avoid trading within their division? Is it wise for a general manager to either trade for, or deal a star that could come back and haunt them in the future? It still happens of course, but it’s always a topic of discussion when the trade deadline nears.

This may be a simplistic take on the subject, but isn’t the purpose for any GM to help their team win (either presently or in the future)? Isn’t that what a trade boils down to in the end?

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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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