It's real simple. If this report from Jerry Crasnick is true, and all indications are that it is, then Brian Cashman should be on the phone with Roy Oswalt's agent right now. And within a few days Roy Oswalt should be the newest member of the New York Yankees. Because right now, Roy Oswalt is exactly what the Yankees are looking for in every way.
In Oswalt, the Yankees are getting just the type of player they need, a true top-of-the-rotation stud. And not just one with a couple good seasons under his belt, but a real true stud. A guy with All Star Games and big postseason performances and Cy Young votes under his belt. Inserting Oswalt behind CC in the rotation immediately makes it better AND deeper than it is right now. And in Oswalt, the Yankees are getting a guy who is highly motivated and will be busting his balls to pitch well and have a great year. Oswalt's no fool. He knows there's no market out there for him right now for a multi-year contract because he's such a ticking time bomb with his bad back. If he can have one good year where he's healthy the whole time, he can probably convince a club to give him one more multi-year deal before he retires. He won't be coming in just to hang on and collect a paycheck; he's playing for a career. Bad back or not, "former ace and Cy Young candidate with a huge reason to pitch well" = "Good Investment."
And if it doesn't work out? He gets hurt again, misses a lot of time, misses the season, whatever. You know Cash wouldn't be stupid enough to move A.J. or Hughes because he would want a contingency plan for Oswalt, so the rotation would be right back where it would have been if the Yankees didn't sign Oswalt, which is where it is right now. And on a one-year deal, Oswalt poses little or no threat to the Yankees' continuing-to-become-more-apparent plan to cut payroll for 2014.
But if it does work out, and Oswalt comes into camp in great shape, stays healthy throughout the season, and pitches to the ability of his still-very-existent talent? Then the Yankees have to get vaulted right back to the top of the list of World Series favorites. And Joe can feel a hell of a lot more confident coming up with a postseason rotation in 2012.
Anything between those two outcomes is gravy, even if it's just a handful of starts, because it would almost assuredly be better than what A.J. would give the team as a 5th member of the rotation. And when you know it's a one-year deal, you just hope for the best and know that no matter what happens, you're out from under it and free after one year. It's basically the same situation the Yankees were in last offseason when they signed Freddy and Bart. And even at more money, Oswalt is still a better investment than many of us thought Colon and Garcia were because of the higher reward potential.
We look at the rotation and we see a lot of 3s and 4s, most of them with question marks attached related more to how much worse they'll do in 2012 than better. Roy Oswalt is a no-doubt upgrade over all of those guys and he's available for a one-year commitment. If the Yankees are or were considering giving $12 million for one year of Hiroki Kuroda's services, then they shouldn't even have to think about picking up the phone to make a similar deal to Oswalt.