The Roy Oswalt Deal: Philadelphia’s Perspective

Reports are that the deal is done, and the Phillies have acquired Roy Oswalt. Regardless of why it was necessary, this looks like a pretty big win for Philadelphia.

In exchange for J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose, and Jonathan Villan, the Phillies get Oswalt and a reported $11 million to offset a large part of the money he’s still owed. As a result, it looks like Philly will get Oswalt through 2011 for about $12.5 million total. Even with his back problems, he’s worth quite a bit more than that.

Oswalt isn’t the workhorse ace that he used to be, but the Phillies already have one of those. On a inning by inning basis, he’s still one of the better pitchers in baseball. After years of decline, he’s actually posting his highest strikeout rate since his rookie year. He won’t throw 220 innings a year anymore, but when he’s on the mound, he’ll get hitters out with regularity.

I’d estimate that Oswalt should give the Phillies about +5 wins of value over the next year and a half. Given their status as a playoff contender on the bubble, the marginal value of a win to their franchise is higher than the league average as a whole. So, while they’re paying about $2 million per win for Oswalt, they’ll be getting something closer to $5 or $6 million per win in on field value, thanks to their increased playoff odds.

Overall, Oswalt should add $10 to $15 million in value above and beyond what the Phillies will pay him. For that value, they surrendered Happ and the two minor leaguers. I’ll let Bryan Smith tackle the prospects with more depth, but suffice it to say that no one thinks they mortgaged their future here. Happ is a back-end starter, and while he has some value as a league minimum guy for the next couple of years, he can be replaced.

Oswalt represents a significant upgrade to their rotation, and gives the Phillies a legitimate chance of running down the Braves for the NL East title. Because they were able to get Houston to cover so much of his salary, he’ll also reinforce their ability to contend again next year. That’s a lot of improvement for not much surrendered from Philly’s perspective.

Setting aside all the context that made the Phillies need Oswalt in the first place, this has to be seen as a good move for their franchise. They got a quality pitcher at a below market price without putting the long term future of the franchise in danger. Kudus to Ruben Amaro for this deal.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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“Setting aside all the context that made the Phillies need Oswalt in the first place…”

That line made me laugh.