Oswalt requests trade from Astros
GM Wade: No immediate plans to deal ace right-hander
HOUSTON -- The frustration of having the worst run support in the National League and pitching for a team that appears headed for its third losing season in four years appears to have finally gotten the best of ace pitcher Roy Oswalt.
Astros general manager Ed Wade acknowledged Friday that Oswalt's agent, Bob Garber, called owner Drayton McLane this week and requested that the three-time All-Star be traded. Oswalt has a no-trade clause, but he has previously said he would be willing to waive it to be traded to a contender.
"He didn't say we demand we trade him," McLane said. "He said, 'I'd like to you to think about it or consider it.' He didn't say Roy wanted to be traded or demanded it. He said, 'Why don't you think about that?' That was several days ago, and there has been absolutely no activity by myself, Ed or anyone else with the Houston Astros."
Oswalt said through a team representative on Friday that he had no comment, and Garber didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
Houston entered play Friday with an NL-worst 14-27 record and ranked last in the league in average, runs, hits, homers, RBIs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Oswalt (2-6, 2.66 ERA) has quality starts in all nine of his outings this year, but the club has scored four runs in 39 innings in his six losses.
McLane didn't rule out trying to trade Oswalt and said he would consider anything that would make the Astros better.
"We haven't played well, and that raises questions," he said. "Roy is like I am. Those of you that have known me for 18 years, do I want to win? Do I want to be a champion? Absolutely. They [Oswalt and his agent] want to win, so they want to know which direction we're headed, so that's something we've got to consider."
Wade has a policy of not discussing trades, but he made an exception Friday after the Chicago Tribune reported that Oswalt had asked for a trade.
"I just want to acknowledge the request has been made, but it really doesn't change anything on our end," Wade said. "We want to win with the guys who are here. And if, at some point in time, we feel it's appropriate to explore other possibilities, we'll do that. I'll maintain my policy to not talk about trades."
Oswalt, 32, is in the fourth year of a five-year, $73 million contract that will pay him $15 million in 2010 and $16 million in 2011. His contract includes a $16 million team option for 2012 or $2 million buyout. He posted 20-win seasons in 2004 and 2005 and has won 139 games with a lifetime 3.21 ERA in his 10-year career.
"We want to win with Roy here, but if at some point in time we feel it's appropriate to move in a different direction, we'll explore that," Wade said. "I'm going to put my tongue in my cheek again and say Roy's contract includes a no-trade clause, not a trade-me clause. There is no rule that allows a player in his contract status to demand a trade. Demand, request, hold your breath till you turn blue. It's all the same. It's acknowledged."
Wade added: "Obviously, if Roy wants to be traded somewhere, he has a no-trade clause in his contract and would have some say in the final destination. Some say, not the complete say."
Oswalt's teammates were caught off-guard.
"I don't know how these things work because I've never been in position to ask for a trade," veteran infielder Geoff Blum said. "But I'm sure he's got a lot of reasons why he's saying what he's saying and asking for what Roy asked for. As of right now I'm an Astro, and I want to be an Astro, so I'm going to play my heart out for the Astros."
Lance Berkman, the longest tenured member of the team, also said this year that he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Astros were struggling and could get prospects in return. Berkman didn't want to comment when asked Friday about Oswalt's situation.
"That's his deal," he said. "I really don't have anything to say."
Astros manager Brad Mills had just heard the news when asked by the media for a reaction.
"I don't think it should be any distraction at all," he said. "Those guys are going to go play. They're professionals and going to go about their business."
Oswalt and McLane have become close friends since the pitcher joined the Major League club in 2001 after being drafted in the 23rd round in 1996. McLane gave him a bulldozer after the 2005 season, when Oswalt led the club to its first World Series and was named Most Valuable Player of the NL Championship Series. McLane said Oswalt had not previously conveyed to him any sentiments about wanting to be traded.
"[Garber] just wanted to know where we were headed with the team, are we going to add to the team, subtract to the team?" McLane said. "I told him we have absolutely no plans right now. We have a team we thought in January and February and in Spring Training could be a very, very competitive, successful, championship team. We haven't played well so far. We're not ready to give up on it right now. I told him, Ed and I had not really sat down and considered anything."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.