One possibility would be to trade Werth to the Rays to acquire prospects they could then send to the Astros for Oswalt, whom the Phillies covet, according to someone familiar with the talks. Philadelphia apparently is having difficulty finding a match with Houston straight-up for Oswalt and is looking to involve a third team. The Phillies and Astros deal frequently, as Astros GM Ed Wade used to be the Phillies' GM and is close to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, adding to the plausibility of such a scenario.
Any Oswalt deal is complicated by a few factors, including the fact that some say he is interested in having his 2012 option picked up and also his no-trade clause. He is said to have a short list of teams to which he'd accept a trade, but perhaps the Phillies could be one of them. Oswalt also has about $25 million remaining on his contract. One competing GM suggested Houston has signaled it might be willing to pay some of the $25 million, depending on the prospects they'd receive in exchange for Oswalt, who is just 6-11 but has a 3.12 ERA.
Werth is a terrific all-around player but, like a lot of the Phillies, he is not especially hot, and that may be complicating things as well. Werth, an All-Star last season, enters Wednesday night's game batting .283 with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs.
The Phillies made a long-term contract offer to Werth, but he didn't quickly accept it and is being shopped, according to sources. The Giants, Padres and Braves are among other teams looking for outfield help, and San Francisco has been connected to Werth, as well as Milwaukee outfielder Corey Hart. The Yankees are also looking for outfield help, but they appear to be seeking a right-handed complementary player for their left-handed starting outfielders Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner, not a star such as Werth, who is a righty.
The Phillies have top prospect Domonic Brown ready to replace Werth in their outfield. Their lineup is already left-handed heavy and Brown is another lefty, but he is viewed as a big-time prospect -- he's batting .325 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs in the minors this year -- and Werth has trade value and is a free agent at year's end.
It isn't known what the Phillies offered Werth but he is believed to be seeking in excess of the $66 million the Mets signed Jason Bay for last offseason. Werth is a better all-around player than Bay, though the market may be tough with Carl Crawford also expected to be available this winter.
Some competing teams are now suggesting again that the Phillies should just have kept Cliff Lee, whom they traded to Seattle last December, since they are now trying to trade for a starting pitcher. Their offense has been very disappointing this year, so trading Werth would be an interesting move for Philadelphia. But they do appear to be trying hard to get the tandem trades done.
• The Giants are thought to have interest in Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista. The Blue Jays are looking for middle-infield help, so Emmanuel Burriss or Ehire Adrianza could be part of a package.
• Prince Fielder is unlikely to be traded, say sources close to the Brewers situation -- though naturally, there is interest among other teams in acquiring the slugging first baseman.
• The Brewers plan to give manager Ken Macha the full year. However, without a stark improvement, his chances to return for next year appear slim. He boldly signed only a two-year deal, which is up after this year.
• The Yankees, White Sox and others have called the Nationals about Adam Dunn. But one executive said the price remains "prohibitive'' at the moment. Washington is said to be listening on all its players, but looking for premium value.
• The market is moving slowly in general, no surprise since few of the players remaining are stars, and teams do not want to surrender premium prospects for complementary players and average starters.
• Cody Ross and Jorge Cantu are available from the Marlins. But one GM said it doesn't appear that Dan Uggla is available yet.
• The Yankees are interested in Baltimore's Ty Wigginton and Cleveland's Jhonny Peralta to meet their need for a right-handed bench bat and fill-in at third base for Alex Rodriguez when he isn't available.
• Wigginton and Miguel Tejada are being talked about in trades, but one GM said he could see the Orioles, who are playing better, keeping them to try to win more games. Though, another GM countered, "that makes no sense. They are 80 games out.'' Slight exaggeration, but you get the point.
• The Mets seem focused on relievers at the moment and have talked about Scott Downs of Toronto.
• The Mets seem to like the Astros' Brett Myers more than the Cubs' Ted Lilly at the moment, if they do go for a starter. But right now, the plan is to give Hisanori Takahashi a couple more starts. The Mets don't see Lilly as anything more than a fourth starter for them and don't appear anxious to give up a prospect for him. A competing GM suggested the Twins as a possible landing spot for Lilly.
• It could be a big year for transition for legendary managers, with the Cubs' Lou Piniella joining the Braves' Bobby Cox in retirement. Sources close to the situation say they believe Dodgers manager Joe Torre and the McCourts won't sign another deal. Don Mattingly is seen as the likely replacement. After Torre was ejected and Mattingly called upon to serve as manager Tuesday night, Mattingly accidentally visited the mound twice, resulting in him having to remove closer Jonathan Broxton and replace him with George Sherrill, who then blew the game. Mattingly is still considered a strong managerial candidate, however.