Roy Oswalt, the 34-year-old right-hander who sat out spring training and the first two months of the 2012 season, signed a free-agent contract Tuesday with the Texas Rangers.
The club had lost starting pitcher Neftali Feliz 11 days ago to an elbow injury that will require one month of inactivity and probably another month of rehabilitation, which puts his return sometime in mid-July.
The Rangers therefore rekindled negotiations with Oswalt, who they considered as a rotation option this winter. Oswalt's agent initially asked for a three-year, $36-million deal, which the Rangers declined, and when the team signed Yu Darvish the offer to Oswalt was for a place in their bullpen for one season.
Oswalt, who lives in Mississippi, had hoped to sign near his home, and appeared to target the St. Louis Cardinals and Rangers. When neither met his price – or interest level – Oswalt waited for an opportunity during the season. The market formed in places such as Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Texas. The Dodgers had an offer on the table, but doubted Oswalt was sincere about coming to L.A.
The Rangers believe it will take about a month for Oswalt to be game ready. If he pitches well and the rest of the rotation holds up, a decision will have to be made about Feliz, the team's closer the past two seasons who prefers to start. Feliz was 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA in seven starts – and one relief appearance – this season before injuring his elbow.
Sources said Tuesday that Oswalt's contract would be worth about $5 million, with an additional $1 million in incentives. Already, without Oswalt, the Rangers hold the lowest ERA in the American League. Their starting rotation ranks third in ERA, behind the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.
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