The St. Louis Cardinals have yet to secure a deal for Roy Oswalt after numerous rumors over the weekend of an imminent deal. Fresh on the heels of those rumors comes rampant speculation that Kyle Mclellan is on the trade block.
Due to the constraints of Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook’s no trade clauses McClellan may find himself as the odd man out. While John Mozeliak is down playing the Cardinals pursuit of Oswalt, I find it hard to believe we are shopping McClellan to clear some money if we are not actively attempting to bring Oswalt into the fold.
I am not sure as of yet if I am a fan of this path. I wouldn’t say I am not a fan of Westbrook. I do think he has underperformed for what the Cardinals are saddled with in his current contract structure ($17.5 million, 2 years, No Trade Clause). If this leads to signing Oswalt I can live with it. If we trade him and aren’t able to land Roy I would be disappointed. Personally, I think McClellan is more flexible and serviceable than Westbrook. Since they are unable to trade Westbrook, they find themselves in this predicament.
Let’s look a little bit at how we got here for a historical perspective. In July of 2010 the Cardinals traded fan favorite Ryan Ludwick to get Westbrook. Westbrook proved decent and was rewarded with what I believe an overly generous contract (see above). In July of 2011, partly due to Westbrook not performing (4.86 ERA), and partly because of Colby Rasmus failing to conform, the Cardinals traded Rasmus for Edwin Jackson and host of others. As I have stated before I believe this move, while not only brilliant, directly impacted the Championship run. I also find it interesting that during this time McClellan’s flexibility as a starter and long reliever provided better production (4.15 ERA) than Westbrook.
While I feel that McClellan is at the very least comparable to Westbrook (and a bargain) in almost every aspect, the Cardinals are now looking to make room financially for Oswalt. I think that Oswalt will be a great pick up if we don’t over reach. Apparently, there is a three way competition between the Cardinals, Red Sox, and Rangers for Oswalt’s services. Oswalt has made it known he wants to be a starter, would prefer to stay in the National League, and would like to be closer to his home in Mississippi. These desires would appear to put the Redbirds in the driver’s seat if they can make the deal they are comfortable with.
According to several news sources the Orioles seem to be interested in McClellan. I am interested to see what we may get in return for him. I am concerned that if we trade McClellan and fail to sign Oswalt we go from an extremely deep pitching rotation to worrying about every little injury that arises. If Oswalt is signed Westbrook or Lohse go to the bullpen. The Cardinals would have a solid 1-4 and should, with recent developments in the NL Central (Fielder to Detroit and Braun’s looming suspension) be a lock to win the division. I would put that rotation, assuming Oswalt is a shadow of his former self, Chris Carpenter returns to form, and Adam Wainwright is recovered from Tommy John surgery up against anyone and love the Cardinals chances of repeating. I anxiously await the outcome of the potential trade and signing of Oswalt. I wonder how long we will have to wait with Pitchers and Catchers reporting in two weeks.