clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Trade Retrospective: Phillies acquire Roy Oswalt for stretch run

Looking to grab a third straight National League pennant, the Phillies added Astros' homegrown ace Roy Oswalt at the 2010 trade deadline for a package of young talent. Who is winning the deal?

Oswalt produced a 133 ERA+ over 1932.1 IP during parts of 10 seasons with the Astros.
Oswalt produced a 133 ERA+ over 1932.1 IP during parts of 10 seasons with the Astros.
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

On July 29, 2010, the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros completed one of the largest trades of the trade deadline with a little help from the Toronto Blue Jays. The Phillies, looking for their third straight pennant and trailing the Atlanta Braves by two and a half games, acquired longtime Houston ace Roy Oswalt for a package of young talent. One of those players - Anthony Gose - was flipped minutes later to Toronto for slugging first base prospect Brett Wallace.

As always, this series is concerned only with evaluating the initial decision made by the teams participating in the transaction and not later moves that retroactively affect the perceptions of the deal. However, in this case, the Astros were aware that they would immediately flip Gose at the time of the trade, and Wallace is instead included in the evaluation.

The final judgement is reached by comparing each player's salary and fWAR-based free agent dollar value from FanGraphs to create a surplus value measurement. Salary and service time figures are taken from Baseball-Reference.

As with other recent editions of this series, a non-scientific attempt is made at future win depreciation. In almost all blockbuster trades, one team (the "buyer") sacrifices long-term wins to improve their team in the near-term. In essence, present wins are more valuable than future wins. The below table is just a rough estimate attempting to accommodate for that consideration.

Year 2011 Value 2011 WAR
2010 150% 1.50
2011 100% 1.00
2012 75% 1.33
2013 55% 1.82
2014 40% 2.50
2015 30% 3.33

As this is a trade deadline deal, a heightened value is placed on wins in the second half of the immediate season (2010). The value is still presented relative to the 2011 offseason, the period of time around which this entire series has revolved.

The Deal

Only months after trading Cliff Lee to the Mariners, the Phillies needed another ace to pair with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels for the stretch run. Other options included Lee himself and Dan Haren, but the team ultimately traded for Roy Oswalt and $11 million in cash considerations from the Astros.

Oswalt was the Astros' 23rd round pick in 1996, performed like an ace in the Minors, and was ranked as Baseball America's 13th best prospect before the 2001 season. That year, he broke through to the Majors with a 2.84 FIP over 141.2 innings (good for 4.2 fWAR), placing second behind Albert Pujols in Rookie of the Year voting.

He'd remain one of the most consistent starters in the majors for the rest of the decade, throwing at least 200 innings in seven of the next nine seasons. His 48.3 fWAR from 2001-2010 ranked behind only Roy Halladay as the second-most productive pitcher in all of baseball. He stayed in Houston through the entirety of this stretch and was a key cog on the 2005 World Series team. At the time of the trade, he remained under contract through the 2011 season, and the Astros included $11 million of his remaining salary.

The Astros received three young players from the Phillies: left-handed starting pitcher J.A. Happ and prospects Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose. Minutes after the finalization of the trade, Gose was flipped to the Toronto Blue Jays for first base prospect Brett Wallace.

Happ was the Phillies' 3rd round selection in the 2004 draft, who finally got his shot as a 26 year old in 2009. He produced a 4.33 FIP over 166.0 innings and came in second behind the Marlins' Chris Coghlan in NL Rookie of the Year voting. He didn't produce high Major League strikeout rates, but he was young and cheap and was considered a backend starter with some upside. He had five seasons of team control remaining.

Villar was a 17-year-old Latin American signing by the Phillies in May 2008. He was a shortstop prospect with a glove ahead of his bat and would go on to be ranked in Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list prior to the 2011 season. He had yet to make his Major League debut and was only 19 at the time of the trade.

Gose was the Phillies' second round pick in 2008 and was a left-handed center field prospect. He was also only 19 years old, but the Blue Jays saw him as a potential Gold Glove center fielder and immediately acquired him from the Astros. He'd grow to become another top 100 prospect before making his Major League debut in 2012.

Wallace, whom the Astros knew they were getting when the Oswalt trade was finalized, was a two-time top 100 prospect at the time of the trade. He was the 13th overall pick by the Cardinals in 2008 and hit everywhere he went. He bounced between four different teams from 2008-2010, finally landing with the Astros. He had yet to make his Major League debut and was coming off a season where he hit .301/.359/.509 in the PCL.

The Ripples

Phillies Transaction With To/By/With For
Roy Oswalt Free Agency

Nothing interesting later happened on the Phillies' end of this trade. Oswalt had a team option for 2012, but at the time of the trade the Phillies stated they would not exercise it and instead increased his buyout by $1 million. This was to convince Oswalt to waive his no-trade clause.

Astros Transaction With To/By/With For
Anthony Gose Traded Blue Jays Brett Wallace
Jonathan Villar Traded Brewers Cy Sneed
J.A. Happ Traded David Carpenter Blue Jays Joseph Musgrove
Brandon Lyon Francisco Cordero

Ben Francisco
Carlos Perez
David Rollins
Asher Wojciechowski
Kevin Comer
Brett Wallace Released
Francisco Cordero Released
Ben Francisco Traded Rays Theron Geith
Carlos Perez Traded Nick Tropeano Angels Hank Conger
Hank Conger Purchased Rays
David Rollins Rule 5 Pick Mariners

The Astros have a far more active transactional family tree as a result of this trade. As was mentioned above, Gose was immediately flipped to the Blue Jays for Wallace. Wallace would spend parts of four Major League seasons with the Astros before being released. Jonathan Villar stayed with the Astros as a utility infielder and was recently traded to the Brewers for pitching prospect Cy Sneed.

Happ was another player in this trade moved to the Blue Jays. He went in the form of a strange, non-blockbuster, ten player trade - that is, it was a depth move and was without a centerpiece on either side despite the large number of players involved. Relievers David Carpenter and Brandon Lyon would join Happ in Canada, while seven players returned to Houston.

At the time, Francisco Cordero and Ben Francisco were the lone Major League pieces and provided relief and bench depth, respectively. Cordero would later be released by the Astros, while Francisco would be moved to Tampa Bay for relief prospect Theron Geith.

Five Minor Leaguers were also included in the trade with Toronto for Happ. Catcher Carlos Perez has since latched on as the Angels backup after again being included in a trade. That time, he and pitcher Nick Tropeano were moved for Hank Conger. Conger was later purchased by the Rays.

David Rollins stuck with the Mariners as a left-handed reliever after being selected in the 2015 Rule 5 draft. Asher Wojciechowski is a right-handed pitcher with a back-end starter profile who made his Major League debut in 2015, while fellow righty Kevin Comer is younger and still rising through the Minors.

The player who has become the biggest piece in this trade is probably Joe Musgrove, who had one of the most ridiculous stat lines of any Minor League pitcher in 2015. Over 100.2 innings, the 22 year old posted a 1.88 ERA with 100 strikeouts to only eight walks. He'll begin 2016 in the upper Minors.

The Results

Remaining Control fWAR Salary (M) FA Value (M) Surplus Value (M) Surplus Value - Adj (M)
Roy Oswalt 0 4.6 $25.14 $31.70 $6.56 $7.59
Cash Considerations 0 0.0 $0.00 $11.00 $11.00 $11.00
J.A. Happ 0 8.6 $18.59 $64.10 $45.51 $28.23
Brett Wallace 3 -0.6 $0.92 $(3.50) $(4.42) $(8.01)
Jonathan Villar 5 -0.3 $0.50 $(2.10) $(2.60) $(1.58)
Phillies Total 0 4.6 $25.14 $42.70 $17.56 $18.59
Astros Total 8 7.5 $20.01 $56.90 $36.89 $18.65

In the end, this might be the closest trade of this retrospective series thus far, though that is partially owed to the Astros opting for Brett Wallace instead of Anthony Gose. For the Phillies, Oswalt was as advertised. He produced 4.6 fWAR over 221.2 innings through the end of the next season. However, due to his high salary, he was only a slight bargain based on dollars alone ($6.56 million in surplus value). When adding in the Astros' $11 million subsidy, though, he becomes a bigger bargain. The Phillies also received all of this production up front, and when depreciating future wins, that's an additional bonus.

The Astros largely receive value from J.A. Happ and his far lower salary here. He's been a dependable back-end starter since the trade and earned below what his production would fetch on the free agent market. Wallace made a surprising 2015 comeback with the Padres that is under-discussed but struggled mightily to adjust to Major League pitching in the immediate years after this deal. Villar has been a serviceable utility option but has made little impact to date.

If you don't care about depreciating future wins, the Astros win by a modest margin. However, I prefer the adjustment and depending on the selected weights, it could swing either way. This has been an incredibly fair trade.

. . .

Spencer Bingol is a Contributing Editor at Beyond the Box Score. He can also be read at Crashburn Alley. You can follow him on Twitter at @SpencerBingol.