Updated: June 19, 2010, 7:54 PM ET Rangers' Ryan eyes Astros' Oswalt
By Calvin Watkins and Buster Olney
HOUSTON -- Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan told multiple media outlets Friday that his club is interested in trading for Houston Astros starter Roy Oswalt.
Ryan spoke prior to the first game of a three-game series with the Astros at Minute Maid Park. He was not available following the Rangers' 9-3 victory.
"You know, we definitely are looking to improve our ballclub, and when you have an opportunity, or might have an opportunity, to acquire someone like that, you have to look at it and evaluate it and see if that's a possibility and see if it's doable," Ryan said.
Ryan told MLB.com, KRIV-TV in Houston and foxsportshouston.com that he has a fondness for Oswalt, whom he mentored when he was a special assistant to the Astros.
"I think he's phenomenal," Ryan said. "I think he's been one of the top four or five pitchers in the league for quite a while. He's a big-game pitcher and consistent with his stuff, as we see this year, with the way he's approached each game he's been in. He's special."
However, the Rangers are probably not in position, at this moment, to pursue Oswalt. They're essentially operating with money from Major League Baseball until their ownership situation is resolved.
The Rangers' ownership group of Ryan and Chuck Greenberg could be in place by the July 31 trade deadline, and in that case, Texas could be the front-runner to get Oswalt.
Richard Durrett and the rest of the ESPNDallas.com team have the inside scoop on the Rangers, the American League and Major League Baseball. Blog
But if legal issues are not resolved by then -- the next hearing is scheduled for July 9 -- then the Rangers could get Oswalt (who is owed about $27 million for the rest of this year and 2011) only two ways:
• No. 1: Getting approval from MLB to spend the extra money -- and executives with other teams believe that is highly unlikely, because other teams would be very, very upset that the Rangers would be able to upgrade their team with their opponents' dollars.
• Or, No. 2: The Rangers would have to get huge salary relief from the Astros. And officials within the Astros' organization believe it is unlikely that owner Drayton McLane is going to put Oswalt on a platter for another team in that manner -- least of all to the Rangers and Ryan, who is a former Astros employee.
The Rangers currently have issues with their starting pitching, and there is uncertanity as to who will pitch Wednesday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Starters Derek Holland and Rich Harden are on the disabled list. Holland suffered a setback when he tweaked his right knee during a fielding session Friday morning in Surprise, Ariz.. Holland was at the Rangers' training complex because he has inflammation in his left rotator cuff.
Harden received an anti-inflammatory injection to his lower back for a muscle strain and won't pitch on the side until early next week.
When told about Ryan's interest in him, Oswalt said: "I'm open. Just have to wait and see what works for both of us."
Ryan said no deal appeared to be imminent, however.
"There hasn't been any conversations I've been aware of here in the last week to 10 days," Ryan said. "So I think from the Astros perspective that will probably pick up as we get closer to the [trade] deadline in July."
Oswalt, who is 5-8 with a 3.12 ERA, is scheduled to pitch Tuesday against San Francisco.
Calvin Watkins covers the Rangers and Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag. Buster Olney is a senior MLB writer for ESPN The Magazine. LINK