It's the first off day in three weeks, the starting rotation has seen better days, and Roy Oswalt is dangling out there on the open market. Hooray, confluence of factors that begets hyperspeculation!
I have my doubts as to whether this will actually go down, and I have my doubts as to whether pulling the trigger here would represent the best possible course of action ... but Oswalt to Texas seems to have all sorts of smoke around it at present, and, as with most rumors, it's either going to be shot down by an authority figure and die out, or will continue to linger out there and pick up even more momentum. The Rangers have committed to Scott Feldman during their next trip through the rotation, in large part because they don't have a better immediate solution on their hands, but this may not remain the status quo for long, and the media is beginning to buzz:
● Ben Rogers: "Seems like Oswalt has wanted to be a Ranger all along. If his fee/term request is realistic, guessing he'll be starting for Texas come June ... no official fire to report but lots of billowing smoke. Gut says next 24-48 hours. Betting there are plans for physical" (Twitter)
● Per ESPN.com's Buster Olney, as of late yesterday morning: "Full expectation among some rival execs is that Roy Oswalt will land with Texas, because of connection with Maddux, Ryan, proximity to Miss. ... To this point, the Rangers have not made a formal offer to Roy Oswalt." (Twitter)
● Per Evan Grant, the Rangers are already over their original 2012 season budget by $3-4 million, and needed to draw more than three million fans through the turnstiles this season just to break even with that original budget; depending on how expensive Oswalt's demands are, the Rangers could conceivably end up running a deficit in 2012 as well, and it's unclear whether the present budget is already "maxed out" in a way that makes an Oswalt signing infeasible (Dallas Morning News)
● Ron Washington, when asked whether he wanted Roy Oswalt to join the Rangers assuming that the scouting reports are positive: "If you put it like that, I would say yes, but I think (general manager) Jon Daniels and them will decide. Oswalt has to want to come to Texas and we have to get him ready. The guy is a quality pitcher. But I'm more than certain there are other teams trying to do the same things. When you put it the way you put it and I had to give you a yes or no, I'd say yes." (Ben and Skin, ESPN 103.3 FM)
Update: Here's the latest stuff dangling out there, some of which accumulated during the afternoon and is current as of Thursday evening:
Jon Heyman: "The surprising Orioles have emerged as a fourth team with interest in free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt ... the Orioles are joined in the mix by what could be a final four that includes the Red Sox, Phillies and Rangers. It isn't known if any additional teams are involved. Oswalt, the former Astros and Phillies star, is said to want to be on a big-league mound by about June 15, meaning he's expected to select a team soon." (CBSSports.com)
Danny Knobler: "On Oswalt, while Rangers have admitted they have interest, it's uncertain how much they want him. Some in [organization] arguing against." (Twitter)
Jayson Stark: "Two friends of Roy Oswalt say they still believe his preference is to play in Texas, Atlanta or St. Louis. But since there's no indication the Braves or Cardinals are interested, his challenge is likely to be trying to convince the Rangers to pay him the significant dollars he's hoping for.
An official of one club that looked into Oswalt reports: "He wants a ton of money to pitch half a season. But based on how he pitched last year, it wasn't like he was dominant. So he's not a guy who's going to wrap up the pennant for you. He'd be a nice guy to add to the bottom of the rotation. He's not a guy you're adding to the top of your rotation, at this stage. But [based on his asking price] he doesn't see it that way." (ESPN.com)