After slaughtering the Brewers 10-3 last night, my dad gave me a call and said that Jason Lane had hit a pinch-hit grand slam and that the Astros had scheduled a press conference after the game. I didn't really know what we'd announce - had we traded for someone? Then I remembered reading on Astros Daily (the best Astros site there is) that we had started contract talks with Roy Oswalt.
That was indeed what the press conference was about, as Tim Purpura announced that the Astros had signed Roy Oswalt to a 5 year / 73 million dollar contract on his 29th birthday. I'm excited about it - we've now locked up Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt to long-term deals (6/85, starting 2006 and 5/73, starting 2007 respectively), and we're going to build the team around the two of them, apparently. They're two pretty good players to build around - by VORP, Berkman is the 14th most valuable position player in baseball (Travis Hafner is #1 by quite a bit) and Oswalt is the 6th most valuable pitcher in baseball (Santana / Halladay are virtually tied for 1st)
I admit that I would have been happier with something like a 3 year / 45 million dollar deal - pay a little bit more per year for a shorter contract. Oswalt is a great pitcher, but he has had slight injury issues in the past, his strikeout rate is decreasing, and he's 29. I immediately think of Tim Hudson's decline the past few years, and Oswalt and Hudson are similar pitchers with similar body types. Nevertheless, I'm happy with the deal - Oswalt is a popular player, it seems like McLane has been more willing to open his pocketbook lately (so we can still afford the occasional free agent while paying Berkman + Oswalt a combined 30 million a year), and...it's Roy O! (I just noticed the contract includes a no-trade clause, which makes it a little worse.)
Here are a few other thoughts:
Astros signed RHP Roy Oswalt to a five-year, $73 million contract extension through 2011 with a mutual option for 2012.
A whopper. Oswalt had one more year of arbtration remaining after making $11 million this year. He's now due to receive $13 million in each of the next two years, $14 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010 and $16 million in 2011. The amount of the option wasn't disclosed, but there's a $2 million buyout. He also gets a full no-trade clause. Assuming that Oswalt would have made about $13 million next year anyway, what the Astros are really doing is buying four free agency years for $60 million. It's a fair price given his talent, though committing to any pitcher for such a length of time is a big risk. Oswalt's strikeout rate has steadily dipped, his batting-average against has increased and he has had oblique issues. A decline over the next few years is a real possibility.
Baseball Primer comments on the signing are here.
I've gotta run, but you have to be happy about watching Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt locked up as Astros for the next 5 years.