Oswalt approves deal, Astros trade ace to Phillies
AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – There’s a new Roy in town – and he’s an ace, too.
Three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt gave his OK to a trade from Houston to Philadelphia on Thursday, becoming the latest star pitcher to join the hard-charging Phillies.
After getting Roy Halladay in the offseason, the two-time defending NL champions got Oswalt and a sizable amount of cash from the Astros for pitcher J.A. Happ and two speedy prospects, outfielder Anthony Gose and shortstop Jonathan Villar. Houston then traded Gose to Toronto.
Oswalt joins a rotation that includes Halladay, acquired from Toronto in the offseason, and Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP. Oswalt is scheduled to make his debut for the Phillies on Friday night, starting at Washington.
“We’re trying to do what we can to get back to the World Series and win it,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “To have Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay and additionally Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick, we stack ourselves up as one of the best rotations in baseball.”
This was the second straight year the Phillies made a major trade for a pitcher in the days leading up to the July 31 deadline. Last season, they got Cliff Lee and he boosted them to another NL pennant – Lee was then sent to Seattle in a separate deal on the same day the Phillies acquired Halladay.
“I’m excited,” Halladay said. “It says a lot that this team is dedicated to winning.”
The Phillies took a seven-game winning streak into Thursday night’s game against Arizona. Philadelphia began the day 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
St. Louis also had been bargaining for Oswalt. He had a no-trade clause in his contract and could decide whether to accept any deal.
“He’s pretty excited about coming here,” Amaro said. “The fact that Roy came to Philadelphia with really no great demand, that says something about the guy.”
Oswalt, who spent his entire career with Houston, requested a trade in May.
“We salute what Roy did for the organization and the contributions that he made here over the course of his career in an Astros uniform and his profile here is significant,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “At the end of the day, we have to do what’s best for the Houston Astros. You can’t make a deal like this as a favor to a player. In this case I think we served everybody’s purposes with what we did.”
Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who played with Oswalt in Houston, spoke to his former teammate for about 20 minutes on Wednesday night.
“He wanted to know about Philadelphia and the city,” Lidge said. “I told him it’s been great. Since I’ve been here, it’s been one of the more unbelievable things I’ve ever seen. I don’t think he needed a lot of selling on the idea. He wanted to play for a winner.
“It was probably going to happen anyway. Philly sells itself right now. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what we’re doing and what we’ve done. This is where you want to be if you want to get a ring.”
The 32-year-old Oswalt was 6-12 despite a 3.24 ERA for Houston. The Astros were shut out in five of his 20 starts.
The righty helped the Astros get to the 2005 World Series, but they are far out of playoff contention this year. Oswalt is 4-0 in the postseason.
Oswalt is 143-82 with a 3.24 ERA in 10 seasons with the Astros. He is due about $5.33 million the rest of this season from his $15 million salary and is owed $16 million in 2011. Oswalt’s contract has a $16 million mutual option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout. Amaro said the team sweetened the buyout, but wouldn’t consider it a “significant” amount.
The Astros seemed set to send about $11 million to the Phillies as part of the deal. Amaro declined to specify the amount.
“That was an important part of this,” Amaro said. “We wanted to keep some level of flexibility so we can continue to field a championship-caliber team. Yes, the money did make a difference.”
Happ has made one start after missing three months with an elbow injury. The 27-year-old lefty went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA and finished runner-up for the NL Rookie of the Year award last season.
“This is all I’ve ever known,” Happ said. “I had an idea driving to the ballpark it might be the last time. It was emotional.”
The 19-year-old Gose is fast, stealing 36 bases and hitting .263 for advanced Class A Clearwater. The Astros then traded Gose to Toronto for Triple-A first baseman Brett Wallace – a 23-year-old who hit .301 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs at Las Vegas.
Wade said Lance Berkman remains Houston’s starting first baseman and he’s “not anointing” Wallace as the future starter.
“We had a chance to go out and get a guy who’s a really solid hitter, who has got a chance to be a really good big league player,” Wade said. “But Lance is our first baseman.”
Villar, also 19, stole 38 bases and batted .272 for Class A Lakewood.
The Phillies and Astros are not strange trading partners. Wade was Philadelphia’s GM from 1998-2005, and Amaro served as an assistant under him. In the 2007 offseason, Wade dealt Lidge to Philadelphia. Lidge was a perfect 48 for 48 in save opportunities and helped the Phillies win the World Series in ’08.
“We obviously have a very good friendship and he’s obviously been a pretty important person in my life,” Amaro said of Wade. “I will tell you this was by no means easy.”