If Cliff Lee becomes available, the Astros will have a harder time obtaining value for Roy Oswalt, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Lee is younger, pitched better in 2008-09, makes less money, has succeeded in both leagues and could help a team obtain picks in next year’s draft.
Rosenthal’s sources say the Yankees are among the teams that would rather pursue Lee when he becomes a free agent after 2010 than part with prospects for Oswalt. The Yankees spent on Lee's former teammate, free agent C.C. Sabathia after passing on the chance to deal for Johan Santana and that decision has worked out well.
In theory, the Astros could take on salary to shrink the gap between the two aces’ salaries, but Rosenthal hears that Astros owner Drayton McLane would probably not cover a substantial amount of the $29MM or so Oswalt will earn before his contract expires.
High-revenue clubs could afford Lee’s $8MM contract and some mid-revenue teams could become involved, too. If the 18-28 Mariners, who rallied to beat the Tigers today, do not become sellers, the point is moot. If the Mariners start playing better, Oswalt remains the most attractive arm around, though it doesn't appear that the Astros are looking to deal him at this point.