Given the possibility of Roy Oswalt leaving the Astros after the 2007 season, the club decided to lock him up for a very long time. Oswalt’s five-year, $73MM deal averages $14.6MM annually with a complete no-trade clause.
It’s backloaded, of course, with salaries of $15MM in 2010 and $16MM in 2011. The concern with Oswalt is his size and workload. Last year he threw 269 innings, and it was 256 in ’04. At least this year Houston should miss the playoffs and give him a bit of a break.
Baseball Prospectus says Oswalt should be worth about $11.3MM in ’07, and then it’s a downward spiral to $6MM in 2010. This deal will likely prove to be quite the financial burden near the end; the Astros apparently did not learn their lesson after the Jeff Bagwell contract.
Then again, Oswalt could certainly defy the projections. The key to survival for him into his late 20s and early 30s will be the continued transition away from power pitching. He’s got a career low strikeout rate this year, but you wouldn’t know it from his 3.25 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.