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The Rangers are working hard to get Roy Oswalt

Jun 14, 2010, 7:23 PM EDT

UPDATE:  Now the Fort Worth Star-Telegrams is calling applesauce on my report.  GM Jon Dainels didn’t directly deny it, but he did say “you can probably figure this one out,” suggesting that it’s not happening.

And as I said before, there is a difference between a deal happening and one being discussed. I stand by my report that the Astros and Rangers have talked about a deal and got fairly far along in the process. I also acknowledge — as I did earlier — that making such a deal would be outrageously difficult given the Rangers’ financial constraints.

For those of you calling the whole thing into question, I had some things to say in the comments with respect to my philosophy about dealing in the trade rumors game. Short version: sometimes people are wrong, sometimes people are right. Quite often there’s no telling who was wrong and who was right (e.g an the lack of an Oswalt-to-the-Rangers trade does not debunk my report that there were talks of one).

My view is that I pass on what I hear from credible sources (and my source for the Oswalt report is credible), attempt to give enough context to the information I’ve received to where people can at least attempt to judge it on its merits and do my best not to oversell what I’m hearing, which is what I’ve done here.  Finally, if things turn out to be wrong, I try to do my best to get the right information out there, which is also what I’ve done here.

5:33 P.M:  Buster Olney tweets that he’s spoken with a highly placed Rangers source and that there’s “nothing to it.” Meaning my report.  I’ll obviously keep looking into it, but at this point we’ve certainly got to say there are conflicting reports.

4:52 P.M.: A major league source is telling me that the Rangers have been talking to the Astros about Roy Oswalt and that the teams are “getting closer” to having a deal in place.  It’s not yet clear which player(s) would be coming back from Texas to Houston, but my understanding is that the live bodies part of the deal is more or less agreed to.

But in place is not the same thing as done: the sticking point: the Rangers are trying to convince Major League Baseball — who holds the purse strings until the sale of the Rangers is complete — to allow them to take on Oswalt’s salary.

It’s also unclear — but I’m sure some of my bankruptcy expert readers could tell me — if the bankruptcy court would have to give approval for the Rangers to take on new obligations in such a deal.  On the one hand Oswalt’s salary represents a boatload of money and the Rangers are in bankruptcy. On the other hand, a bankruptcy court tends not to oversee the normal hiring and firing of employees of bankrupt companies that are otherwise going concerns.

Whether it’s just MLB or MLB+bankruptcy court signoff that is required, such a deal will take some serious begging. As everyone knows, Oswalt is owed pro-rate $15 million this year, $16 million next year and a $2 million buyout if his 2012 option — which is also worth $16 million — isn’t picked up.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball currently has a line of credit out to the Rangers just so they can cover expenses on the team. A team that is in bankruptcy, by the way.

So yes, there are a lot of “ifs” here at the moment. But unlike the multiple reports we’ve seen in the past several days regarding where Roy Oswalt would theoretically allow himself to be traded, we know right now that there are at least two teams — the Rangers and the Astros — who would like to see him pitching in the Dallas Metroplex, complicated financial considerations willing.

  1. Josh Fisher - Jun 14, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Depends on where the cash is coming from. If it’s unencumbered–not secured by a lien–the DIP can use it in the ordinary course of business. That would be a fun argument. Hope you get a judge that’s a baseball fan.
    If acquiring an expensive front-line starter is not ordinary, there would have to be notice and a hearing. Basically, court approval. And that would likely rest on the Rangers showing that creditors are ‘adequately protected’ in the thing. There are several ways to do that.

  2. okobojicat - Jun 14, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    Craig, I wonder about your opinion on the anonymous source. Here you use it, and you don’t use the NYTimes explanation for those sources “a hill staffer said on fear that he would piss the shit out of China”. So here you use it. Which I’m fine with, and I think to capture rumors (and so that agents and GM’s can float trade ideas) that is probably going to stick in baseball.
    .
    But can we get some sort of uniformity or more clearly understand who your source is? Is this person with a team? Is this person within MLB? Is this person an agent? Is this person simply Donald Trump (I can think of no one who is more “major league”) All of the above persons I mention above could be “a major league source.”
    .
    So, I’m asking for some clarity here. Otherwise, I’ll just have to sit at MLBtraderumors for my hot stove talk

  3. Matt - Jun 14, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    The Rangers are in bankruptcy… however, as a business decision, how is adding Oswalt’s salary compared to the potential earnings in jersey’s, ticket sales, playoff ticket sales etc…

  4. Craig - Jun 14, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    Maybe Houston would take Rich Harden’s remaining 6.5mil to ease the 2010 financial burden of Oswalt’s salary. I’m sure the Rangers are ready to unload Harden.

  5. Jason @ IIATMS - Jun 14, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    Craig,
    Didn’t you break some big TX-related signing at the GM meetings?
    I trust your source.

  6. Jake - Jun 14, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    Wish it were true, probably is not. I doubt the “source” in this article.

  7. Marc from Brooklyn - Jun 14, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    Craig. Sometimes I think reporters get too dependent on anonymous sources. With this story, either your source lied to you or Buster’s lied to him (or possibly Buster’s is out of the loop in Arlington). Whichever it is, the one that was burned should owe no loyalty to his source and should turn his attention to the motivations of that source and report it.
    This is rampant in the hot stove league but certainly goes as trade deadline approach. Agents and GMs blatantly lie to reporters about teams’ interests in and offers to free agents for the sole purpose of manipulating the market. This kind of market manipulation could never take place in securities prompting SEC enforcement. We don’t have an SEC for player and trade markets. We need reporters to say that enough is enough and they won’t be used to peddle lies.

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Jun 14, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    Another possibility: my source told me the truth about there being talks and Buster’s told him the truth about there being “nothing to it,” which could mean these aren’t serious talks, or any number of other shades of meaning. I can offer you this much: my source is someone who is in a position to know of the information being reported but does not have a vested interest in this such that he would have any incentive to lie about it. He doesn’t work for either of the teams nor does he work for Oswalt or anything like that.
    My policy on anonymous sources: I’ll use them if (a) the person is in a position where they could receive workplace discipline if they are caught revealing the information to me; and (b) if the news does not involve a serious allegation such that it involves someone’s personal legal rights or something illicit or scandalous. Trade rumors do not fall into that category in my view. They are certainly not the level of SEC information that requires disclosure. And yes, they sometimes turn out to be wrong. Buster Olney is debunking me here. He may be right about it. He has also been wrong about many things too. It’s part of the territory.
    Ultimately you can choose to trust me or not, based both on what I’m actually saying (and do note that I couched this rumor in realistic terms, talking about the barriers to a deal happening, and did not attempt to oversell what I was hearing), and based on my track record. I don’t pass along a lot of these sorts of things. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but each time I’ve reported something like this, my information has been borne out. That doesn’t mean it will this time, but it’s worth considering, I feel.

  9. pobothecat - Jun 14, 2010 at 10:00 PM

    I think it’s reasonably clear that the source here is inside MLB headquarters. If that’s the case, then the deal was at least serious enough that both teams agreed to seek some kind of preliminary opinion from the commish’s office. If Buster Olney had had the same information from the same source under the same circumstances, he would have handled it the same way Craig Calcaterra did.

  10. Joey B - Jun 15, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Writers have speculated on trades for about a century now. Two people can observe the same conversation, come away with two slightly different opinions, and in the course of conversation, those two opinions can diverge even further. No biggie.

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